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Kirthi Jayakumar

2018 Fellow

Founder and CEO, Red Elephant Foundation


Kirthi Jayakumar is an activist, artist, entrepreneur and writer from Chennai, India. She founded and runs the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. Kirthi coded an app for survivors of gender-based violence called Saahas, which works as a web and mobile app.

She is an author and released her debut novel in 2017, titled The Doodler of Dimashq. Her second book, The Dove’s Lament, made it to the final shortlist for the Muse India Young Writers’ Literary Award.

Kirthi is the recipient of the US Presidential Services Medal (2012) from President Barack Obama for her services as a volunteer for the Delta Women NGO. She is the three-time recipient of the UN Online Volunteer of the Year Award (2012, 2013, 2017). She also received the FICCI Flow Outstanding Woman Achiever of the Year Award in 2018. Kirthi was also among the six women featured on Facebook India on International Women’s Day in 2018. Besides her professional engagements, Kirthi is a Zen Doodler, and runs a HerStory project called Femcyclopaedia.

She was a Vital Voices VVLead Fellow in 2015.

She was selected as a Fellow for the first VV Engage Cohort.