Ruchira Gupta is the founder-president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide and Apne Aap International. She is a social justice activist, feminist campaigner and journalist. She is also a professor at New York University and a Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

For over three decades, Ruchira has been campaigning and working for a world where no girl or woman is bought or sold. She pioneered gender-sensitive interventions to end intergenerational prostitution among denotified tribes in India’s Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and West Bengal. She has helped in the introduction and shaping of anti-trafficking policies and laws across the globe, including the Indian anti-trafficking law.

Ruchira’s awards include the French Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur;  Litterarum Humaniorum Doctors, Smith College; Clinton Global Citizen Award and Sera Bangali. Her documentary, The Selling of Innocents, on the trafficking of girls from Nepal to India, won an Emmy.

Ruchira participated in discussions that led to the passage of the UN Protocol to end human trafficking, particularly women and child trafficking, and testified before the US Senate for the passage of the first US Trafficking Victim Protection Act. She has also spoken in the French Assembly, Icelandic Parliament, South African Parliament and Indian Parliament for survivor-friendly laws.

Taking survivors to speak with her at the UN General Assembly and to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, she successfully advocated for the creation of the Trafficking Fund for Survivors at the UN Office for Drugs and Crime.

Ruchira contributed to the creation of the National Plan of Action against trafficking in Kosovo and the UN Secretary General’s Zero-Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. She has worked with UNAIDS, WHO, UN, UNIFEM and UNICEF in Nepal, Thailand, Kosovo, Iran and the US.

She has designed and currently teaches courses on human trafficking at New York University. She is also a part of the board of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution and The Listen Charity, and the Expert Advisory Council of The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.

Ruchira was on the Indian Planning Commission’s steering committee for women and children for the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans. She helped develop India’s first child protection framework and offered recommendations for an inter-ministerial approach to trafficking.

She has edited the anthologies, River of Flesh & Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction and As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader. She wrote for the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime the first manuals for police and prosecutors on human trafficking. The manuals are still used by law enforcement agencies in India.

Before founding Apne Aap, Ruchira worked for various UN agencies across the world. During her 14-year career as a journalist, she worked for The Telegraph, The Sunday Observer, Business India and the BBC. She is the editor of a journal published by SAGE, Antyajaa: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change.

Ruchira has a master’s degree in English Literature.

Awards and Distinctions

  • National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), Government of France (2017)
  • Doctorate in Humane Letters, Honoris Causa (LHD), Smith College, USA (2016)
  • Quami Ekta Award, All India Quami Ekta Manch, Kolkata, India (2016)
  • Visionary Woman, Visionary Women, California, USA (2016)
  • Woman of Distinction, NGO Committee on the Status of Women/NY, USA (2015)
  • Key to the city of Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland, Maine, USA (2015)
  • Shrestha Samman, Rotary International, India (2015)
  • Named paver at the Anne Frank Memorial in Idaho, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence & Idaho Human Rights Education Center, Idaho, USA (2014)
  • Amazing Indians, Stree Shakti category, Times Now, New Delhi, India (2012)
  • National Bravery Award, Godfrey Phillips, New Delhi, India (2012)
  • Sera Bangali, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Kolkata, India (2012)
  • Healthy Masculinities, Men Can Stop Rape, Washington DC, USA (2012)
  • Alumni Achievers Award, Loreto College Alumnae Association, Kolkata, India (2012)
  • Karmaveer Puraskaar Civil Society-Trafficking, iCONGO, International Congregation of NGOs, India (2011)
  • Women Who Care, United Nations Association of New York, USA (2011)
  • Abolitionist Award, Nomi Network, New York, USA (2010)
  • Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership of Civil Society, Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Foundation), New York, USA (2009)
  • Abolitionist Award, UK House of Lords (2007)
  • Emmy, News and Documentary, Outstanding Investigative Journalism, US Academy for TV Arts and Sciences, New York, USA (1996)

Boards and committees

  • Trustee, Listen Charity (Listen Campaign), London
  • Vice-President of Board, Coalition Against Prostitution (CAP), France
  • Board Director, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, International, USA
  • Board Director, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, Asia-Pacific
    Board President, Apne Aap International, USA
  • Advisory Committee member, NoVo Foundation, Move to End Violence
  • Advisory Board Member, Indo-European Foundation for New Dialogues
  • Advisory Board Member ID2020, USA
  • Advisory Board Member, Sold (the movie)
  • Global Advisory Council Member, Vital Voices
  • LEAD Member, Clinton Global Initiative (2011-2016)
  • Member, Human Exploitation Working Group for the New York City Mayor’s Office (2010-2013)
  • Steering Committee, Social Welfare and Disabilities, 12th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, Government of India ( 2011)
  • Steering Committee, Women and Child, 11th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, Government of India (2006)
  • Working Group Member on Child Protection of the Ministry of Women and Children, India (2008-2007)
  • Advisory Board, Asia Society (2007-2006)
  • Advisory Board, Polaris Project, (2006-2004)
  • Advisory Board Member Ricky Martin Foundation,
  • Advisory Board, Cents for Relief
  • Member, Task Force of the National Human Rights Commission, Government of India
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