Mallika Dutt ’83, a lawyer and activist, is president and CEO of Breakthrough, a human rights organization that uses media, pop culture, and community mobilization to promote dignity, equality, and justice. Through award-winning initiatives in India and the United States, Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including racial justice, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and immigrant rights. Last year, Dutt launched Breakthrough’s international campaign against domestic violence at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative.
Prior to founding Breakthrough in 2000, Dutt served as program officer for the Human Rights and Social Justice Program at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office. She also has worked as associate director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University.
Dutt, who grew up in India, first began advocating for oppressed groups at Mount Holyoke College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations. She also holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a J.D. from New York University Law School. While still a law student, Dutt helped draft legislation to protect the rights of home-based and contract female workers in India and also helped found Sakhi for South Asian Women, an internationally renowned organization that addresses domestic violence.
In 2009, Dutt provided testimony at the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight’s hearing on violence against women. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Asian American Justice Center Courage Award and the Indian Confederation of NGOs’ National Award for Social Justice and Citizen Action.