April 11, 2016

Human rights group Breakthrough receives Skoll Award, will use funds to catalyze one million social change actors

NEW YORK — Today, the Skoll Foundation announced that global human rights group Breakthrough has been awarded $1.25 million as a 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship recipient.

Breakthrough works to combat gender-based violence by shifting the focus to prevention and transforming the societal and cultural norms that lead to inequality and violence. The organization catalyzes youth and young adults in the U.S. and India, reaching people where they are and using innovative media and cultural strategies to maximum impact.

“As we work to challenge gender norms and envision a world in which gender-based violence is unacceptable, we are grateful to partners like the Skoll Foundation who recognize innovation and invest in it,” said Mallika Dutt, president and CEO of Breakthrough. “When we come together and pool resources we can dismantle rigid gender norms and create the culture change that will allow us all to reach our full potential.”

Breakthrough has reached 15 million people in rural communities in India and 350 million through its media campaigns. Recently, Breakthrough’s work has contributed to raising the average age of marriage by nearly a year in Bihar and Jharkhand, India.

“Breakthrough is committed to changing gender norms and the social landscape by working on extremely difficult issues such as gender biased sex selection, sexual harassment, early marriage and much more. This kind of work doesn’t fall within the traditional entrepreneurial space, yet it benefits the women and girls struggling against violence by supporting them to build their agency and achieve their full potential. Therefore, for us to be recognized as a social enterprise for the kind of work we do is a great honor that opens up a new space for entrepreneurs to change communities and society,” said Sonali Khan, Breakthrough’s vice president and India country director.

The Skoll Award invests in organizations with the vision to make large-scale change at a time when organizations are at the height of their potential impact and innovations are ripe for adoption and replication. In selecting Breakthrough for its Social Entrepreneurship Award, the Skoll Foundation recognized the organization’s history of programmatic innovation, along with its record of global impact and replicability of programs from local to regional and global.

“The social entrepreneur is driven to challenge injustice,” said Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “Empowering those who have the greatest stake in building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities, social entrepreneurs instigate change where it is desperately needed. These six remarkable people give voice and agency to the voiceless and marginalized, and give us good reason to believe in a radically better future.”

Breakthrough, which operates out of centers in the U.S. and India, plans to mobilize its $1.25 million Skoll Award by catalyzing one million social change actors who take action to make violence against women and girls unacceptable. In the U.S., Breakthrough will use Skoll Award funding to expand its program reach to 500 U.S. college campuses and develop a visibility strategy for challenging gender-based violence in the realm of college life.

In India, Breakthrough will use Skoll Award funding to engage an audience of 150 million through multiple media channels and increase partnerships with states and advocates at the state and national level.

In addition to Mallika Dutt and Sonali Khan of Breakthrough, Skoll Award recipients include Vivek Maru of Namati, Oren Yakobovich of Videre, Chuck Slaughter of Living Goods and Bryan Stevenson of Equal Justice Initiative.

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.

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