Breakthrough is a global human rights organization, based in the U.S. and India, working to drive the culture change we need to make gender-based violence unacceptable.

We use a potent mix of media, arts, and tech to reach people where they are and inspire them – the Breakthrough Generation – to take bold action for social justice.

We envision a world where all people enjoy their human rights and live with dignity, equality, and respect. We can build this world by deploying an intersectional approach to making gender-based violence unacceptable.

Our work in the U.S.

In the U.S., we work to change the cultural norms that result in gender-based violence in the lives of college-aged youth. When we do this, we also prevent the reproduction of some of the most damaging gender norms that sustain gender-based violence in society at large.

We accomplish this by activating and equipping young leaders to prevent gender-based violence with tools that challenge the norms and behaviors that lead to it. We support leaders to take strategic action to dismantle harmful gender norms and catalyze others to do the same, establishing new norms that enable everyone to reach their full potential at home, in college, at work, and everywhere in between.

The Challenge

Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive and most tolerated human rights abuses.

It occurs in private, in public and in multiple forms including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimate partner violence. It is not just an individual problem. Its roots lie deep in society and culture.

Rigid gender norms, discrimination, and age-old gender inequality are rooted in the values and practices of our communities, institutions, and society at large. They take form and are codified in laws and workplace policies, mainstream media narratives, and are represented in popular culture.

We reflect these norms in our lifestyles, value systems, beliefs, stories, collective experiences, and understanding of our world. In a word: our culture. We perpetuate harmful cultural norms in how we pressure one another and ourselves to abide by these norms. And by holding onto these norms, individuals can commit acts of gender-based violence with impunity.

The persistence and acceptance of gender-based violence prevents people from enjoying their full human rights and fundamental freedoms, and prevents individuals, families, communities, and nations from realizing their full potential.

Solution 

Human rights belong to everyone.

More than a matter of far-off lands, they are present in the way we interact and treat one another in our families, our communities, our schools and workplaces, and beyond. We all have a part to play in taking bold, transformative action to uphold human rights values. In order to do so, we use multimedia and pop culture, leadership trainings, strategic partnerships, and community mobilization to reach people and ignite change in the world around them.

Our Approach

Multimedia & Pop Culture

We use media, arts, pop culture, and technology–animations, storytelling, video games, social media and more–to reach mass audiences where they are, challenge norms, and make human rights values and issues real, relevant, urgent, and actionable.

Leadership Trainings

We train new generations of leaders to ignite change in their own communities, institutions, and in the world around them.

Strategic Partnerships

We develop strategic, game-changing partnerships with communities, governments, businesses, and entertainment leaders to reach maximum scale and lasting impact.

Community Mobilization

We cultivate grassroots community engagement to raise awareness and inspire action for local and global human rights issues.

Impact

We measure our impact and share lessons learned in the broader field of innovations for social justice and human rights.

It starts with you.

Explore Breakthrough’s Programs

BreakthroughU

A three-part narrative video series featuring puppets who deal with gender-based discrimination and violence demonstrating ways in which you can take action to disrupt norms and challenge attitudes and behavior to bring about culture change.

THE G WORD

A global storytelling platform designed to explore how gender norms affect us all—and break through the limits of society’s expectations for men and women. Because individually and together, we are so much more.

Breakthrough Action Lab

Action Lab

An incubator that trains students to recognize and dismantle the cultural norms that lead to gender-based violence on their campus through student-led iconic disruptive actions to create a world in which all can live with dignity and respect.

Ring The Bell

A campaign that drove people to interrupt the sexism, discrimination, or violence they see in their communities and everyday lives by leveraging their own skills and contributions, from speaking out against harassment to advocating workplace policies that ensure women’s rights and safety.

#BeThatGuy

A series of short advertisements that demonstrated how sexual harassment sometimes plays out in public spaces like sporting events and parties – and how people can “be that guy” and call out that harmful behavior among their peers.

Check out Breakthrough’s Facilitated Programs

Greek Men Fighting Toxic Masculinity

A workshop for fraternity men centered on topics of masculinity and relating it to the culture of Greek Life at Rutgers University exploring fraternity values, inclusivity, healthy and toxic masculinity, how it can leads to harmful norms and practices, and what can be done to change them.

Express Respect

An exhibition that tackles violent language, aiming to demonstrate the way in which words can become harmful when they are used in contexts that normalize and minimize the violence that is actually being described.

Bathroom Revolution

An action centered on bathroom access for trans and gender nonconforming people, a group of students posted all gender restroom signs over gendered restroom signs all over Bates College.

Positive Change

A campaign to address consent, respect, and bodily autonomy and ensure that everyone had access to the resources they needed to turn Spring Weekend at Brown University into a space where everyone can feel safe, respected, and have a good time.

Not Just Sex Project

A digital campaign that used storytelling, social media, and art to examine students’ unique feelings about and experiences with hookup culture and to challenge expectations and often conflicting norms at Marist College and beyond.

On Tap Project

A campaign that tackled campus party culture, alcohol, and consent through students’ varied perspectives about how consent could be asked for, given, or received when alcohol was involved.

Let’s Picture Consent

A campaign that challenges us to think about the different ways that non-consensual photo sharing happen, using graphics and social media to activate people to share their stories and take action.

#BannerUp

A campaign to counter a practice by campus fraternity houses that would display banners at the beginning of the school year with messages that promoted misogyny and rape culture to incoming freshman women and their families. Instead, a group of IU students and fraternity members decided to post their own banners displaying messages that challenged these harmful practices.