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Breakthrough - India, United States

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Breakthrough is an international non-profit media organisation that uses education and popular culture to promote public awareness and dialogue about human rights and social justice. Many of Breakthrough's efforts are directed toward people, especially children and youth, in India and the United States. The organisation describes itself as "building human rights culture".
Communication Strategies: 

Breakthrough encourages individuals and communities to get involved in promoting social harmony and building a culture of human rights through these avenues:

  • use of mass media to create radio, music, film, art, and television to raise awareness and advocate for social change.
  • an interactive website, which is an educational forum that presents information and ideas for action and that hosts online discussions and debates. In development is a section of the site that includes sample exercises, workshop structures, lesson ideas, and methodologies for human rights education.
  • discussions and workshops that involve communities around the world.
  • multi-media educational materials produced in partnership with, and for use by, schools, colleges, neighbourhood groups, and other relevant institutions.


Breakthrough uses these strategies to address four interrelated human rights issues: women's rights, sexual/reproductive health, religion and peace, and racial/ethnic/caste equality.

First, in an effort to transform attitudes toward women, Breakthrough produced the album Mann Ke Manjeeré: An Album of Women's Dreams. Part of the proceeds of the album supports scholarship funds for women and girls. In addition, Breakthrough is working with a steering committee of four schools in New Delhi to create multi-media educational materials on women's rights. These materials will be disseminated to teachers across India. Breakthrough also conducts workshops on women's issues in educational and global forums. In 2000, Breakthrough collaborated with a number of organisations to produce Colour Your Dreams, a national (India) public service campaign to raise awareness about International Women's Day. This campaign aimed to challenge gender stereotypes and provide young women with positive, strong role models. Colour Your Dreams addressed young urban women and their parents through a 40-second public service TV spot, a print advertisement, postcards, and billboards.

In an effort to enhance sexual well-being and health, Breakthrough is launching a multi-media initiative aimed at reducing women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in India. This initiative, which will include an album, music videos, TV and radio spots, and print campaigns, addresses the challenge of negotiating condom use, the burden of caring for the sick, the stigma and violence associated with infection, and the loss of resources because of discrimination. A tool kit will also be produced for use with educators, professional groups, civic groups, and others. The campaign reaches out to married women or women in heterosexual relationships who are not sex workers; organisers say this is one of the hardest groups to reach in terms of condom use. They have conducted several conversations and workshops with HIV-positive women as part of the campaign development process.

Breakthrough works to encourage peace and religious harmony. For example, in collaboration with Walled City Media, Breakthrough organised a concert for peace in New York city featuring a Pakistani Sufi rock band to promote peace and understanding in the wake of the events of September 11 2001. The concert, which promoted progressive Islam, Sufism, non-violence and peace, was broadcast (in part) on a TV special on the channel VH1. A DVD version of the concert was produced. Organisers are also working to create interactive multi-media materials on the aspects of world religions that promote peace, compassion, and human rights - interwoven with popular and spiritual music. Umeed, a pan-regional peace album, is in the works.

Finally, Breakthrough promotes racial, ethnic, and caste equality. As part of the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, Breakthrough facilitated media activities, held workshops on using popular culture for education on racial justice issues, and produced a video to highlight topics addressed at the conference including caste discrimination, trafficking in women, and challenges faced by indigenous communities, migrants, and refugees. This video, entitled "Bringing Durban Home: Combating Racism Together", is being screened in cities across the United States beginning December 2003.

Development Issues: 

Rights, Women, Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Peace, Discrimination, Education, Youth, Children.

Key Points: 

One of the music videos produced in conjunction with the album Mann ke Manjeeré won the Videocon Screen Awards 2001 and was nominated for the MTV Awards. Organisers claim that groups around the world have used the album and videos in their own educational efforts.

Partner Text: 

Colour Your Dreams was issued by a partnership of 9 organisations: Point of View, Population Council, Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues with Youth (TARSHI), DFID India, The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), Breakthrough, Intervention for Support Healing and Awareness (IFSHA), Naz Project, Center for Reflection, Education and Action (CREA). Walled City Media co-organised the USA concert for peace.

Contact Information: 
Source: 

Letters sent from Devaki Nambiar and Mallika Dutt, both of Breakthrough, to The Communication Initiative on July 14 2003 and December 9 2003, respectively; and Breakthrough website.

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