Mallika Dutt http://www.mallikadutt.com Tue, 09 Aug 2016 18:05:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kali Calls Today http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/kali-calls-today/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/kali-calls-today/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 20:35:30 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2473 The rainbow. A spectacular show where the spectrum of sunlight comes together through millions of tiny droplets to give us a vision of unparalleled beauty. What a potent symbol the LGBTQ community has harnessed to signify its presence and its dreams. What a metaphor for how we can come together ...

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The rainbow. A spectacular show where the spectrum of sunlight comes together through millions of tiny droplets to give us a vision of unparalleled beauty. What a potent symbol the LGBTQ community has harnessed to signify its presence and its dreams. What a metaphor for how we can come together in all our gorgeousness and diversity. Ah, there’s the deep maroon red and the soft lilac. Oh, and let’s bring in the azure and the spring green. What about the silver of the moon and the yellow of the daffodils? There they are!

Credit: Jonathan Hochman  

No. Stop. I grieve. I howl. I erupt.

I am not ready for rainbows right now.

All the colors merge into black light.

Kali calls.

Read the rest of this post on Medium.

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Emily Doe is our path to culture change http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/emily-doe-is-our-path-to-culture-change/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/emily-doe-is-our-path-to-culture-change/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 19:45:22 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2476 Emily Doe is angry. And yet, in the midst of such trauma, she created a thing of raw, powerful beauty. We may never know her real name, or hear from her again. But she is the protagonist of this story. She will go on, she will heal, and she ...

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Emily Doe is angry. And yet, in the midst of such trauma, she created a thing of raw, powerful beauty. We may never know her real name, or hear from her again. But she is the protagonist of this story. She will go on, she will heal, and she will thrive, because of love: the love of her sister, her boyfriend, and the millions of people who have now been transformed by her words. She has reminded us of the power of shared humanity. Our job now is to not lose sight of exactly that.

Read the rest of this post over at Medium.

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Breakthrough receives 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/skoll-award-social-entrepreneurship/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/06/skoll-award-social-entrepreneurship/#respond Fri, 03 Jun 2016 14:42:02 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2468 On April 11th, Breakthrough was named one of the six recipients of the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

The Skoll Award is not a lifetime achievement award. By investing in organizations when their innovations are ripe for accelerated and scaled adoption, the Awards help unleash the full global potential ...

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On April 11th, Breakthrough was named one of the six recipients of the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

The Skoll Award is not a lifetime achievement award. By investing in organizations when their innovations are ripe for accelerated and scaled adoption, the Awards help unleash the full global potential and reach of social entrepreneurs. The Skoll Award distinguishes transformative leaders whose organizations are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale equilibrium change, and are poised to create even greater impact on the world.

Mallika Dutt and Sonali Khan accepted the award at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford on April 14th. 

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Still Struggling to Blog http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/still-struggling-to-blog-2/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/still-struggling-to-blog-2/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 17:06:45 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2457

Last week, a friend gently told me that my blog was all over the place; that I needed to get a theme and a focus; and that I needed to get an editor. For about ten seconds after hearing that I felt like I had been punched in my solar ...

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Vienna Wedding

Last week, a friend gently told me that my blog was all over the place; that I needed to get a theme and a focus; and that I needed to get an editor. For about ten seconds after hearing that I felt like I had been punched in my solar plexus. I couldn’t breathe. The voice in my head that constantly tells me I’m not good enough laughed uproariously. “I told you so.” “Who do you think you are!” “You can’t write.” “Do the world a favor and give it up.”

I took a deep breath. As calmly as I could, I agreed with her evaluation of my blog. She was right – I was all over the place and my writing could certainly do with some improvement. I’m just in my fifth week, I said. Give me time and I’ll get better.

Right now, it’s challenging to just get my words into coherent sentences and hit the publish button. Once I get past the deer in headlights feeling, I will think through a focus for my blog. Since that conversation, I’ve been struggling with the critic in my head and worrying about what I am going to write about for this week’s blog. Can I start to articulate a theme? Should I edit each sentence as I write? Should I take a hiatus from the weekly blog until I get my shit together and maybe take a couple of writing classes?

In the meantime, I’ve attended the biggest fattest Indian wedding in Vienna and wandered dumbstruck through palaces adorned with flowers and graced with incredible performances. I am now in Palermo in Sicily – a part of the world that I have been longing to visit for years. I have a hundred stories to share about the wedding and about day one of my Sicily adventures. And yet, here I am. Still writing about my struggle to write. This time though I am not allowing my inner critic to silence me. No tears. Just writing through the “all over the place.”

Maybe next time I’ll tell you all about the wedding.

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My G Word Story of Trauma and Healing http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/g-word-story-trauma-healing/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/g-word-story-trauma-healing/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 13:55:23 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2349

On Friday, I told my own G WORD story at the Breakthrough Gala. It wasn’t easy. I stepped into it anyway. I wanted to share it with all of you.

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I never wanted to cook.  When I did, I would always burn something or hurt myself. Several accidents ...

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On Friday, I told my own G WORD story at the Breakthrough Gala. It wasn’t easy. I stepped into it anyway. I wanted to share it with all of you.

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I never wanted to cook.  When I did, I would always burn something or hurt myself. Several accidents later, I decided that I simply wasn’t going to cook – my way of helping in the kitchen was washing dishes and cleaning up. I was fortunate to have roommates from grad school to law school who were happy to cook. Amy, my law school roommate, even learned how to make Indian food. My ex-husband Daniel did all the cooking through our 20-year marriage. It was almost a feminist badge of honor – that I didn’t have to be in the kitchen where all the women hung out.

And then two years ago, I remembered a long buried childhood memory that helped me to understand why I had so many accidents in the kitchen. When I was seven, my grandmother’s cook, Bahadur, started to sexually touch me. My grandmother lived in the top floor of our family building, and Bahadur would take me to the staircase leading up to the roof. Those moments became our secret. My seven-year-old mind did not know how to process anything. I had no words to explain the shame and naughty secret of what was happening. He often smelled of onions or different kinds of oil and masalas; as a result, I began to avoid going into the kitchen.

That experience had all kinds of repercussions on my life – that I could not cook was only one. The memory of those staircase moments with Bahadur emerged during a healing circle where dear friends held me as I sobbed.

I share this story because the work we do is to discover the effect of gender on our lives. These individual stories and experiences live on in the forms of trauma. They live on through cultural norms and values based on fear and scarcity that dictate what boys and girls should do and how men and women should live. They become processes, structures and systems that lead to multiple forms of violence and abuse and inequity.  Enough is enough. It’s time for culture change.

When we share our stories, we generate new possibilities. When we share our stories, we heal, connect at an emotional level, and find shared meaning. When we become storytellers, we begin to create new stories – ones that give birth to new norms and new ways of being. Stories can transform culture so that we shift narratives, and change behaviours, practices and structures.

A few days after the memory of my sexual abuse returned and I connected the dots to my kitchen accidents, I received an enormous kitchen knife from a friend in my healing circle. It took a little time to shift the muscles in my body to get comfortable while I chopped and stirred. And I still burnt a few things. But now I can have three things on the stove while I sip from a glass of wine and chat on the phone.

You all know me as a warrior and a strong advocate for human rights.  And now you have also met the molested little girl who healed that wound – and you’ve met a woman who can make a mean dal.

I invite you to open your hearts and to share your own stories with one another. As we heal and create new meaning, we will be the generation that dreams a new world into being. One that is built on respect, love, and compassion for all humans and for all the incredible beings with whom we share this beautiful earth.

Every day, I close my zazen meditation with this mantra:

Lokesh Samastah Sukhino Bhanvantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May all my thoughts words actions contribute in some way to the happiness and freedom of all beings.

 

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How Do I Blog From Inside A Box? http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-do-i-blog-from-inside-a-box/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-do-i-blog-from-inside-a-box/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:26:32 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2327 It’s that day. Thursday. The day I committed to publishing a weekly blog post.  There’s this personal voice that wants to emerge and yet it’s so bloody hard. I am trying to hold myself accountable, so this morning I posted my inability to do so on Facebook:

Within minutes, I ...

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It’s that day. Thursday. The day I committed to publishing a weekly blog post.  There’s this personal voice that wants to emerge and yet it’s so bloody hard. I am trying to hold myself accountable, so this morning I posted my inability to do so on Facebook:

Within minutes, I am surrounded by love. So here I am, encouraged by friends on Facebook, encouraged by their reaction to my struggle, encouraged to just go ahead and write anyway:

I have tears streaming down my face as I write this and I have no idea why I am crying. There’s a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball that won’t let me breathe.

Voices in my head always tell me – “There should be a theme that you share. A beginning, a middle, and an end. A personal story that takes the reader along to a place of connection and action.” I know all this. I’ve been producing multimedia storytelling for more than 15 years now. Breakthrough has become known for storytelling, and has been recognized globally as a result of my years of this work. Awards abound, for which I am so grateful.

And yet, when I have to speak in my voice, tell my story, share my perspective, something inside me just unravels. The warrior who stands for human rights becomes a frightened little mouse when faced with speaking of my own humanity. I find myself hidden inside a box closed in on all four sides as I gaze longingly at the sky. If I jump high enough, maybe I can jump out. But the fear of being seen keeps me paralyzed. I stay in the box. I write anyway.

This is all I can share today. Thank you for the love and encouragement that got me this far. I am publishing my Thursday blog after all.

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Collisions: Why We Need Fierce Compassion for Our Planet http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/collisions-why-we-need-fierce-compassion-for-our-planet/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/collisions-why-we-need-fierce-compassion-for-our-planet/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:20:14 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2297 Fierce compassion. The theme for the 2016 Skoll World Forum came into dramatic relief for me when I stepped into the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan of the Martu tribe, in the remote Pilbara desert of western Australia.

I had made a promise to myself that I would ...

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Fierce compassion. The theme for the 2016 Skoll World Forum came into dramatic relief for me when I stepped into the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan of the Martu tribe, in the remote Pilbara desert of western Australia.

I had made a promise to myself that I would experience the virtual reality world of Collisions while I was the Skoll World Forum. I love shiny new things, especially when they converge with my passion for storytelling through multimedia. As an added bonus, Collisions intersects with my newfound commitment to indigenous medicine through my emerging practice as an energy healer.

I settled into my chair and put on the glasses and headphones with deep anticipation. I had already had powerful conversations with filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, which gave me a sense of the craft and vision that she brought to her work. And yet, nothing prepared me for the completely immersive and visceral experience of arriving in the vast Australian desert and connecting with the land through the eyes of the stewards who seek to protect and nurture it.

“Collisions” with Dolby Atmos and Jaunt VR from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Here’s how the filmmaker describes Collisions:

Collisions is a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert. The Martu lived largely untouched by Western culture until the 1960’s. Nyarri’s first contact with Western culture came in the 1950’s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology, when he witnessed first hand and with no context, an atomic test. Nyarri offers us a view to what he saw, and, reflecting on this extraordinary event, shares his perspective on the Martu way to care for the planet. Collisions focuses on the needs of future generations, as we dive head-long into the fourth industrial revolution.

As the bodies of kangaroos flew through the air after the nuclear explosion witnessed by Nyarri, I felt my heart break and then break again. Each thud was a reminder that this was wrought by us humans. I was overwhelmed by fierce compassion – for myself, for the kangaroos, and for the Martu tribe.

Can these immersive experiences be a link from self to planet in way that ignites fierce compassion strongly enough to interrupt our headlong fall into extinction?

Nyarri Morgan. Photo credit: Piers Mussared

Can virtual reality be the journey that each one of us embarks upon to create different possibilities and outcomes?

Can we learn from our indigenous elders and create a sustainable future based on fierce compassion for all beings that inhabit this planet?

Collisions certainly gives me inspiration and hope that we can bring ancient technologies together with modern ones to dream a new world into being.

Watch Collisions on Jaunt with your own VR headset.
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Social Entrepreneurship Meets Fierce Compassion at Skoll World Forum http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/social-entrepreneurship-meets-fierce-compassion-at-skoll-world-forum/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/social-entrepreneurship-meets-fierce-compassion-at-skoll-world-forum/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 15:07:50 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2289 Today, I received the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for Breakthrough. I have been blessed with deep recognition over my years of work to end violence against women and advance human rights. This award, however, holds great resonance for me as I understand better the intersections between the ...

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Today, I received the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for Breakthrough. I have been blessed with deep recognition over my years of work to end violence against women and advance human rights. This award, however, holds great resonance for me as I understand better the intersections between the Skoll Foundation’s understanding of equilibrium shift and my own rootedness in the idea of culture change.

I’ve resisted orthodoxies of any sort for most of my life. While being deeply steeped in global movements for human rights, I wanted to experiment with media, arts and culture to engage larger constituencies with its values. That experiment, in the form of Mann ke Manjeere: an album of women’s dreams, led to the creation of Breakthrough which adopted as its mandate: building a global culture of human rights by using culture to change culture.

My Breakthrough journey has included experimenting with multiple technologies and storytelling to shift narratives, engage people at scale, and change culture. We created ICED, the first 3D video game on detention and deportation,, and Bell Bajao, one of the first global campaigns calling on men to challenge violence against women. We embrace the lens of intersectionality to explore connections between race, gender, and class through our work on college campuses. In 150 schools in Haryana, we’re shifting gender norms that lead to an alarmingly skewed sex ratio. Along the way, we’re constantly learning and adapting by asking tough questions about our effectiveness through methodologies ranging from intensive randomized control tests to quick Facebook polls.

I have come to believe that to dream a new world into being, we must engage in culture change. Culture change is about shifting cultural beliefs and practices that lead to violence and discrimination. That shift requires not only dismantling current norms that come from patriarchal mindsets of fear and scarcity but also creating new norms and practices that are based on interconnectedness, compassion, and love. Dismantling the gender norms that underlie so much of the violence and discrimination in this world is key

I discovered great resonance between my approach to culture change with that of the Skoll Foundation’s understanding of equilibrium shift as laid out so beautifully in Getting Beyond Better by Roger Martin and Sally Osberg. Their description of how social entrepreneurs challenge the equilibrium of unjust systems and transform them into new equilibria through disruption and change has provided me with a new map and new tools to understand and describe my own journey with Breakthrough.

As I receive this award, I embrace the connections between social entrepreneurship and movement building, culture change and equilibrium change. I am honored to be a part of this global community of disruptors and change-makers and to bring the issue of gender-based violence into the world of social entrepreneurship. Our shared belief that “even the most intractable problem offers an opportunity for change” is a mantra that I hold onto every single day. I remain deeply committed to building a world where all beings can thrive. This award expands my sense of partnership and companionship on this journey.

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How Losing My Friend Showed Me That All Violence is Connected http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-losing-my-friend-showed-me-that-all-violence-is-connected/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-losing-my-friend-showed-me-that-all-violence-is-connected/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 14:22:20 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2270 On September 13, 2015, I woke up to headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people who were killed was a very dear friend of mine. His name was Rafael ...

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On September 13, 2015, I woke up to headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people who were killed was a very dear friend of mine. His name was Rafael Bejarano, an incredible healer. A shaman. A musician. That a random, bizarre incident in the Egyptian desert could intimately and deeply affect my life was once again a reminder of how interconnected our lives are.

And so it is with the work that we do to end violence in New York City and around the world. Our lives, no matter where we are, are intimately interconnected. The local is global and the global is local. The cultural norm of violence against women is universal. We might have different variations on the theme, but at its fundamental core it is really the outcome of a patriarchal world order that we deal with over and over again.

You might be wondering why I’m sharing Rafael’s death as an example of the interconnectedness of violence against women.  After 30 years of working to challenge gender-based violence, I have come to believe that the violence we live with on a daily basis starts with the way in which violence is perpetrated and allowed in the home. This is the place where the first distinction between human beings gets made: between men and women. This is where the notion of “other” gets created. This is where the paradigm of one group of people (men) having power over another group of people (women) comes into existence. Boys grow up thinking that to be masculine means to be tough. Violence becomes a legitimate way to assert power and resolve conflict; this leads to intimate partner violence as a global pandemic.

Violence against children in the home is also a pandemic. If violence is allowed within the home, then I believe it is no accident that we then watch violence play itself out in gangs, on the streets, through terrorism, in the army, in wars, and in the multi-billion dollar arms trade. It’s all connected.

In our work to end violence against women, we often see intimate partner violence as a phenomenon between a couple. In reality, it is something that affects every aspect of how we come together as human beings and live together on this planet.

We already know that violence against women is a human rights issue. We know that it’s about women’s public and political participation and their ability to step into the economic system. I posit that it is actually more than that. Violence against women is at the core of the value system of how we live our lives, how we treat one another, how we treat other species, and how we treat the planet itself.

I understand that the work that I do to change the culture and norms that lead to violence against women is deeply connected to Rafael’s death. We must bring gender into the conversation if we are to dream a new world into being.

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Storytelling, Advocacy, and the Legacy of Berta Cáceres http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/storytelling-advocacy-and-the-legacy-of-berta-caceres/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/storytelling-advocacy-and-the-legacy-of-berta-caceres/#respond Thu, 31 Mar 2016 15:45:43 +0000 http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2236 Sometimes a story comes along and punches you in the gut.  When that happens to me, it’s usually because of a powerful storyteller who weaves a narrative arc that connects self and purpose, vulnerability and transformation.

I was punched in the gut recently when a young woman called Berta Zúñiga ...

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Sometimes a story comes along and punches you in the gut.  When that happens to me, it’s usually because of a powerful storyteller who weaves a narrative arc that connects self and purpose, vulnerability and transformation.

I was punched in the gut recently when a young woman called Berta Zúñiga Cáceres (known as Bertita) shared the story of her mother’s assassination on March 18 at the global launch of Breakthrough’s storytelling platform, THE G WORD.

Bertita’s mother, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, was a warrior for the land and a healer for our planet. She was born on March 4, 1973 in La Esperanza in Honduras and co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras in 1993.

Berta Zúñiga Cáceres speaks at the United Nations launch of THE G WORD on March 18.

Berta was assassinated on March 3 of this year at the age of 43. She was silenced because she stood up for this earth, for women, and for all beings on this planet.

When Bertita began to speak, I knew that I was in the presence of a powerful storyteller and an extraordinary leader.  It had been less than two weeks since her mother was gunned down and this is what she had to say:

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“All of the life lessons that I have learned, I learned from my mother.

Berta pushed me, and she taught me to open my mind and deeply comprehend the struggles of everyone, and to understand that everyone is me.

Berta taught me not to have prejudices, not to have discrimination, not to indulge in stigmas, and to celebrate and learn from the difference – different realities and different persons. I think this was one of her most beautiful qualities – she harvested knowledge, she harvested wisdoms from all over the world and she applied it to her struggle.

Berta was well aware of the dangers that she faced, but she was not going to let them stop her. Caring for us was part of her global project because she knew that what she was doing, she wasn’t just doing for herself or for us or for her people, but that her struggle was for the whole world. That’s why we should include, just as she did, a consciousness of the whole world.

When I found out she had been assassinated, despite the pain I felt, I felt that she was with me. I still feel that she’s with me. That is why I am redoubling my efforts to struggle for justice.

That sums up Berta’s message for women but also for men, which is, yes, when you defend life you may be killed. But thanks to all of the beauty and power and solidarity that Berta wove, thanks to that sisterhood, I am here today to continue to help the world hear the voice of Berta and the clamor for justice.”

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Bertita’s powerful storytelling, and the memory of Berta Cáceres, invite connections and urgent stories of advocacy for our planet and for one another. Stories are a way in which we can reinvent ourselves, change the way we define ourselves, and dream a new world into being.  I invite you to share your story of transformation on THE G WORD.

The assassins did not understand that killing Berta would only amplify her voice.

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