International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security


  • New York, NY

Mission Statement

Breakthrough is a global human rights organization working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Our mission is to transform the norms and values that enable this violence.

We pursue our mission by building a critical mass of people worldwide—the Breakthrough Generation—whose bold collective action will deliver irreversible impact on the issue of our time.

Working out of centers in India and the U.S., we create innovative, relevant multimedia campaigns, tools, and programs as well as conduct transformative leadership training and community engagement. These products and activities reach people and institutions where they are, inspiring and equipping them to build a world where everyone enjoys dignity, equality, and justice.

With programs challenging early marriage, gender-biased sex selection and discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, and more, our work enables change makers to act in their own spheres and beyond.

Main Programs

  1. Nation Against Early Marriage
  2. Gender-biased Sex Selection
  3. Preventing Sexual Assault on College Campuses
  4. Be That Guy

ruling year


chief executive for fy 1999

Mallika Dutt

Self-reported by organization


Human Rights, Violence Against Women, Women's Rights, Arts, Media, Technology, Popular Culture

Self-reported by organization

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Also Known As



Cause Area (NTEE Code)

International Human Rights (Q70)

Women's Rights (R24)

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Impact statement

Breakthrough reaches millions by using creative tools to build a culture of human rights. We are all entitled to human
rights - the right to life, food, shelter, freedom from violence.  These rights make up the daily fabric of our lives, how we tend to live
individually and as a community. 

The United Nations
has codified many human rights in documents called conventions and
treaties, which are ratified by member countries that promise to adhere
by their rules. They are described in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Guaranteeing these rights for us and for others is what
building a human rights culture is all about.


What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

Nation Against Early Marriage

Breakthrough is boldly training fathers, fathers-to-be, their families and their peers to challenge the deeply rooted—and devastating—practice of early marriage.

India is home to the largest number of too-young brides in the world. Based on two years of formative research on the context and causes of early marriage in Bihar and Jharkhand, two of the three Indian states where early marriage rates are highest, our Nation Against Early Marriage campaign calls on fathers in particular to take a stand for their daughters’ rights and futures.

This research confirmed that fathers have all the say in when and whom their daughters marry. Early marriage will end only when fathers and fathers-to-be decide—and spread the word—that it is no longer acceptable.

Early marriage means an early start to a cascade of related and lifelong human rights violations: threats to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health; domestic violence; denial of education, mobility, self-determination, and more. It decimates the human capital of individuals, families, communities, and even countries.

Our groundbreaking participatory theater presentations, workshops, and trainings reach parents and youth in their communities, acknowledging the pressures on them to do what is expected and considered “best” for daughters and families. Through a combination of empathy and education, we challenge entrenched norms and beliefs, inviting fathers, families, and communities to see girls not as risks and burdens, but as human beings with equal and intrinsic worth, rights, and potential. The leaders we equip and inspire will, home by home, neighborhood by neighborhood, create a new norm: that doing what is “best” means valuing girls.

Program locations:
- on the ground: regions of India in which early marriage rates are among the highest, i.e. Jharkand (Ranchi and Hazaribagh districts), Bihar (Gaya district)
- multimedia campaign: India/national
- message/press reach: global


Women's Rights



Population Served

Male Adults

Female Children ( 5 - 14 years)

Female Adults

Program 2

Gender-biased Sex Selection

Breakthrough calls on families and communities in the Indian state of Haryana and beyons to make gender-biased sex selection (a.k.a. son preference) unacceptable and welcome daughters as full, valuable, and equal human beings.

We present profoundly transformative interventions—from interactive theater to long-term leadership trainings—to families, youth, medical workers, day care staff, and local government officials. We empower and equip new leaders to call on communities to value the rights and lives of daughters. We partner with the national government to reach the highest levels of scale and advocacy in India. The United Nations Population Fund supported—and has adopted—our rigorously researched and extensively tested message design for challenging son preference.

Our Breakthrough approach will inspire millions worldwide to lead their own communities to welcome their daughters and invest in their futures.


Women's Rights



Population Served

Female Infants/Babies (under age 5)

Male Adults

Female Adults

Program 3

Preventing Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Imagine if rather than being known for sexual assault on college campuses, fraternities and their members were leaders in promoting women’s safety and security while condemning sexual violence.

This is the long-term goal of Breakthrough’s U.S.-based College Fraternities: Campus Leaders Against Sexual Violence project. This project applies Breakthrough’s proven approach to changing the norms and values that perpetuate this violence—and makes combating it a shining example of fraternities’ founding principles of community service and leadership.

The project will allow all women on college campuses to live, learn, study, walk, and celebrate without fear or danger of harassment and violation. It will groom fraternity members—who have comprised more than half of U.S. presidents, presidential cabinet members, and Supreme Court Justice since 1900—to be lifelong advocates of justice for women and human rights for all.

Despite—and because of—high-profile instances of campus-based violence, this issue has received unprecedented public attention. Mainstream and alternative media sources are abuzz with discussion and commenters wondering what they can do. Earlier this year, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its first report and announced a series of actions to help address the problem and make sure victims know they are not alone.

This has created a tremendous opportunity seize this moment and turn the cultural tide, so that fraternity brothers join women to end this violence once and for all.


Sexual Assault Prevention



Population Served

Females, all ages or age unspecified

Male Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)


Program 4

Be That Guy

"That Guy is not a superhero. He is not even a hero. He's just the guy who, when he speaks up or takes action, finds out that he just said or did what everyone else was thinking."

Be That Guy is a campaign encouraging men not to be silent bystanders and to intervene to stop violence and harassment in its tracks. Its centerpiece is an animated video series featuring quick stories of everyday men taking a stand against sexual harassment; these videos were prepared for fans of NASCAR and the Green Bay Packers NFL team.

Breakthrough also seeks to set and shape the public dialogue around sexual harassment via strategic use of social, alternative, and mainstream media.


Women's Rights



Population Served

Female Adults

Male Adults



The organization's Blog

Social Media










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Fiscal year: Apr 01-Mar 31
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
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Mallika Dutt


Mallika Dutt, founder of global human rights organization, Breakthrough, is one of today’s most innovative, admired, and effective leaders in cultural transformation. Dutt has reinvented the delivery of social and behavioral change through a potent mix of stirring multimedia campaigns, cutting-edge pop culture, smart social media and authentic on-the-ground community engagement. Her unique formula has earned her accolades in the global human rights community, the media and entertainment industry—and most recently, the technology community.

Dutt’s passionate entrepreneurial style and singular ability to pinpoint the leading edge of the cultural arc has inspired millions to take bold action. Those touched by Breakthrough’s work are motivated to bring the ideals of dignity, equality and justice into their own families and communities—even when doing so requires challenging deeply entrenched norms and attitudes. As a result, Breakthrough lifts the lives of people in the United States, India, and beyond to higher, more just and peaceful, ground.

Dutt holds an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Mount Holyoke College, and is the recipient of numerous awards. She graduated from NYU Law School, received a Masters in International Affairs and South Asian Studies from Columbia University, and an A.B. in International Affairs from Mount Holyoke College.


"Incidents of violence against women—the most common and yet socially tolerated human rights violations in the world — appear to be more rampant and brazen than we have ever seen.

Yet, in my thirty years of activism and advocacy, I have never felt as much hope as I do today.

Because now, at this moment, whenever I see another horrifying headline, I also see something else.

I see women and men marching side by side in Delhi, calling for women’s rights and security. I see the mayor of Dallas, Texas launching a citywide men’s campaign against domestic violence. I see the father of five daughters in Jharhkand, India, home to some of the highest rates of early marriage in the world, vowing to resist the practice in his home and challenge it in his community. I see Peter, a father in Canada, responding to Breakthrough’s global Ring the Bell campaign by making this pledge to his sons: “The cycle of violence in my family ends with me.”

I see people coming to understand that violence against women is not something that happens only in other homes, other communities, or faraway lands. I see people saying, “This is about me. This is about everyone.”

This is the moment that Breakthrough is seizing.

As I witness more and more men joining with women, allies, and institutions worldwide to build the Breakthrough Generation I realize there is hope.

This is the generation Breakthrough is inspiring and equipping to make change—a generation who, through actions small and grand, will reach critical mass and usher in the global tipping point we need on this issue of our time.

And when that tipping point happens, violence and discrimination against women and girls will become unacceptable. And that will be the beginning of the end of the violence.

Thank you for sharing our vision of a world where people everywhere live with dignity and equality, hope and promise. Thank you for joining the Breakthrough Generation."



L. Camille Massey



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