Ritu Sharma, MPH
Ritu Sharma, MPH

Co-Founder and Former President, Women Thrive Worldwide
A first generation American of East Indian heritage, Ritu’s family left behind generations of violence in Punjab, India to build a new life in the United States. Her familial experiences prompted her to dedicate her life to helping women and men who also struggle to leave poverty and violence behind.

At 29, Ritu Sharma founded Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-profit that puts the concerns of the poorest women and girls at the center of all U.S. international assistance. Under 17 years of Ritu’s leadership, Women Thrive grew into a highly impactful organization that successfully altered numerous US policies to benefit millions of women and girls: The Millennium Challenge Account Gender Policy (2007), the White House Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally (2012), and the US Agency International Development’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy (2012), to name only a few.

In June 2014, Palgrave Macmillan published Ritu’s first book, Teach a Woman to Fish: Overcoming Poverty Around the Globe. Melinda Gates said after reading it: “In Teach a Woman to Fish, Ritu Sharma shows us what unites women around the world: devotion to their families, pride in their children, and a willingness to sacrifice for a better future…[S]he helps make the sometimes abstract concept of women’s empowerment concrete.” President Jimmy Carter endorsed the book saying: “Every citizen and lawmaker should read this book.”

Ritu is now the Director of the Global Center for Gender and Youth at the International Youth Foundation and consults with her firm, Radiant Advocacy, LLC. Occasionally you can hear Ritu on Sirius XM’s Insight Channel hosting a show on global women’s issues.

Ritu is also the author of An Introduction to Advocacy: A Training Guide, which has been translated into three languages and is a primary reference for advocates around the globe.

When not working on gender issues, you can find Ritu on her sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay with her two sons.