For Immediate Release
April 30, 2016
Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or loretta@caminopr.com)

NEW YORK — Last night, global human rights group Breakthrough hosted the 2016 Breakthrough Inspiration Awards, honoring changemakers taking action to build a world where gender-based violence is unacceptable and everyone lives with dignity, equality and justice. This year’s annual event was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. The awards gala inspired, engaged and empowered attendees by gathering together innovative leaders — from the CEO of a global corporation to U.S. campus activists.

“When we share our stories, we generate new possibilities. When we share our stories, we heal, we connect at an emotional level and find shared meaning,” said Breakthrough founder, President and CEO Mallika Dutt. “Stories can transform culture so that we shift narratives and change behaviors, practices and structures.”

The gala focused on the power of storytelling to transform gender norms and promote equality. Attendees were introduced to Breakthrough’s innovative new transmedia storytelling platform THE G WORD, honored this month for Best Web Activism by the 20th Annual Webby Awards. Breakthrough also recently received $1.25 million through a 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

“Tonight is about celebrating The G word . . . about sharing stories that unite us in our challenges, and help us create solutions to make the world a better place,” said Mona Sinha, the gala host committee, who opened the event. “So please share your stories, share your voices, and share your resources.”

Breakthrough presented two Changemaker Inspiration Awards. The first was awarded to Amy Ziering, producer of the Oscar-nominated film “The Hunting Ground.” The film shined a light on campus sexual assault, making the issue impossible to ignore.

“The blame for rapes in our culture is — for the first time in our lifetimes — being placed on perpetrators and not the victims,” said Ziering, as she accepted her award. “You are here because you know the power of storytelling, the power of telling stories of gender-based violence and that they matter.”

An emotional Ziering talked about the countless women she interviewed and met on campuses and at screenings of her film. Through her own tears, she said, “Thank you being here for those who cannot speak. And thank you for listening to the roar behind their tears.”

Comedian and writer Judy Gold, who most recently appeared on “Louie, “30 Rock, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Broad City,” emceed the gala.

“Mallika founded Breakthrough out of her desire to reach people where they are and inspire them to challenge norms and stand for the rights of everyone around them. That breakthrough was the chart-topping album and music video ‘Mann Ke Manjeere,’ which for the first time brought domestic violence into mainstream conversation in India,” said Gold, as she introduced the Rowan University men’s a cappella group Profecy.

The crowd was moved when Profecy performed the Oscar-nominated Lady Gaga song “Til It Happens to You.” That song was originally written for “The Hunting Ground” campaign to raise awareness and honor survivors of sexual assault.

Dinesh Paliwal, chair, president and CEO of Harman, also received a Breakthrough Inspiration Award for elevating and integrating a human rights framework within his corporate business model. Upon accepting his award, he noted that his company’s success is largely due to the diversity of its leadership.

“If there is anything I am proud to be recognized for it’s that,” Paliwal said, referring to his company’s diverse executive team and board. “It’s not only about smart hiring or the bottom line. It’s about the role each of us can play, wherever we are, in breaking through society’s stereotypes and expectations about women and men. When we do that, we unleash everyone’s full potential.”

Recording artist, producer and philanthropist Ila Sharma Paliwal also received the Breakthrough Inspiration Award. Paliwal uses music to break through barriers.

“No one color, gender or identity is supreme . . . we are all one spectacular kaleidoscope of humanity,” said Paliwal. “Music can deliver that message in a profound way. We can change how the world views women. And when we do that we can change the world.”

In addition to raising awareness about gender equity and ending violence, the Breakthrough gala also is the organization’s annual fundraiser. Proceeds of the event support Breakthrough’s work in the U.S., India and around the world.

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Breakthrough is a global human rights organization working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Our cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilization, agenda-setting and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality and justice of all.