Husband: Stephen Shaw
Age: 55 Years
Sunita B. Mehta (name after marriage with Suketu Mehta) Women In Media & News|
Her anti-Hindu approach and her alleged connection with George Soros|
Physical Stats & More|
in centimeters- 165 cmin meters- 1.65 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 5”
Salt & Pepper|
Awards, Honours, Achievements|
• In 2011, Sunita Viswanath received the Global Women's Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation in recognition of her contributions to women's rights through her work with WAW.• Sunita Viswanath was honored in 2015 as one of the 12 faith leaders acknowledged as "Champions of Change" by President Obama at the White House. This recognition was bestowed upon her for her outstanding efforts in safeguarding the environment and communities from the impacts of climate change through her work with Sadhana.
• Sunita was recognized by the Center for American Progress in 2021 as one of the 21 "faith leaders to watch."
Date of Birth|
Age (as of 2023)|
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
• Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, US• SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai
• BA in Mathematics from Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, US• MA in Sociology from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai
Sunita Vishwanath embraces Hinduism as her religious path. The Siasat Daily In an interview, she shared her upbringing, stating that she grew up immersed in Hindu traditional rituals and regularly attended temple. Sunita expressed a strong sense of social justice and fairness, which she believed was deeply ingrained in her religious teachings and practices. As an adult, she dedicated her life to promoting social justice.However, despite her Hindu faith, Sunita has voiced concerns about discriminatory actions against minorities, Muslims, and Christians in India on multiple occasions. In response to being labeled as anti-Indian, she questioned the notion by asking which version of India people were referring to: the India envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, or an India where only upper-caste Hindus possess rights. During a candid interview, Sunita opened up about her childhood experiences, sharing that she had personally witnessed and even participated in the practice of untouchability. As she matured, this became a source of profound shame for her. It was these formative encounters that ultimately shaped her path towards becoming a dedicated human rights activist.|
Despite being born into an upper-caste Hindu family in South India, Sunita Vishwanath identifies herself as an anti-caste Hindu. Indo-US Democracy Foundation|
Columbia University ControversyIn 2020, a wave of controversy surrounded Sunita's appointment as the Religious Life Advisor at Columbia University. The Hindu Students Organization at Columbia launched a petition calling for her removal from the position. The petition cited concerns over Sunita's extensive track record of engaging in divisive activism, endorsing anti-Hindu bigotry, and openly supporting individuals with such views. The American Hindu
Hindu American Foundation's Defamation Lawsuit
In May 2021, the Hindu American Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., initiated legal action by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. The lawsuit targeted representatives from Hindu, Muslim, and Christian organizations in the United States, including Sunita Viswanath, and alleged charges of libel and defamation. However, the case reached its conclusion in 2022 when it was ultimately dismissed. American Kahani
Relationships & More|
First Husband: Suketu Mehta (professor at New York University)Second Husband: Stephen Shaw (Member of Jewish Voice for Peace Organization)
Son(s)- Gautama, Akash, Satya (all three from her second husband Stephen Shaw)|
Some Lesser Known Facts About Sunita Viswanath
Sunita Viswanath is an American activist of Indian origin. She has been associated with several women’s and human rights organizations in the US for more than 30 years. Sunita has co-founded many prominent human rights organizations including Women for Afghan Women, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and Hindus for Human Rights. Sunita gained public attention when Union Minister Smriti Irani highlighted a photograph of Rahul Gandhi alongside Sunita Viswanath during their meeting with think tanks in the United States in June 2023. Smriti raised concerns about their meeting as Sunita was purportedly associated with George Soros.
She belongs to a traditional South Indian Hindu family.
She spent her childhood partly in Chennai and partly in London.
At the age of 19, Sunita moved to the United States to pursue her higher studies.
In her mid-20s, Sunita embarked on her professional journey at the Sister Fund, a private family foundation in the United States. This role provided her with an opportunity to bridge her two passions: faith and feminism. After dedicating several years to the organization, Sunita made the decision to step down from her position and co-found Women for Afghan Women (WAW), where she could further pursue her commitment to advancing women’s rights and empowerment.
In 2001, Sunita co-founded Women for Afghan Women (WAW), a grassroots civil society organization committed to advancing the human rights of women worldwide. A year later, she took on the role of editor for the book “Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future,” which featured a collection of impactful essays.
Initially established to provide support to the Afghan community in Queens, WAW expanded its efforts in 2005 to advocate for women’s rights and well-being in Afghanistan. Sunita served as the Board Chair of WAW until January 2022, demonstrating her enduring dedication to the organization. However, she made the difficult decision to leave the organization in protest against certain allegations made against her. Throughout her tenure, Sunita made periodic visits to Afghanistan, primarily focusing on fundraising and advocacy for WAW in New York. Under her co-founder leadership, WAW experienced significant growth and expansion since its establishment in 2001.
In 2011, Sunita made a significant contribution by co-founding Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus. This organization’s primary objective is to engage Hindu Americans in blending their faith with principles of social justice and human rights, including anti-casteism and anti-racism. The motto of Sadhana emphasizes the embodiment of faith through active service, known as seva, in the world.
Within Sadhana, Project Prithvi holds notable importance. This initiative is dedicated to environmental preservation, recognizing Prithvi as a symbol for Mother Earth in Hinduism. Through Project Prithvi, Sadhana endeavours to promote environmental consciousness and sustainable practices among its members and beyond.
Sadhana’s Project Prithvi focuses on tackling the challenge posed by a beach in Jamaica Bay, Queens, where Hindu worshippers leave behind significant amounts of offerings. In response, Sadhana took up the responsibility for this beach, organizing regular clean-up drives to maintain its cleanliness and ecological balance. The organization actively engages with Hindu temples, promoting environmentally conscious practices during worship and encouraging worshippers to be mindful of the impact their offerings can have on the environment.
Furthermore, Sadhana’s impactful initiatives extend beyond clean-ups. The organization collaborated with the Queens Museum of Art to curate an art exhibition that highlighted religious items collected from the beach clean-ups. This exhibition underscored the significance of the initiative while raising awareness about the responsible treatment of sacred items.
As a dedicated advocate, Sunita plays an active role as a member of Sadhana’s Executive Board, making valuable contributions to the organization’s mission and objectives.
Sunita Vishwanath, the co-founder and executive director of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), leads a civil society group based in the United States. However, certain investigations have raised concerns about Hindus for Human Rights promoting a narrative of ‘Hindu Vs Hindutva’ that has been deemed misleading by some. Additionally, the organization has faced criticism for endorsing the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ event, which has sparked strong opposition from Hinduist groups on social media platforms.
In 2020, Sunita Viswanath assumed the role of Religious Life Advisor at Columbia University. Despite facing a petition against her appointment, the university chose to stand by Sunita Viswanath and provided ongoing support throughout the controversy.
Since September 2021, Sunita has actively contributed as an advisory board member for Unfreeze Afghanistan, a role she undertook following the organization’s establishment.
She also holds a position as an advisory board member for the Population Media Center, an organization dedicated to catalyzing social and cultural change through the power of entertainment education and mass media.
In addition to these roles, Sunita serves as a board member for the Dalit Solidarity Forum, further demonstrating her commitment to promoting solidarity and justice for marginalized communities.
In March 2022, Sunita Viswanath embarked on a significant journey as part of a Women’s Delegation for Peace and Education, accompanied by notable figures such as Ruth Messinger, Medea Benjamin, Rev. Chloe Breyer, Daisy Khan, and Masuda Sultan. Their purposeful trip to Afghanistan aimed to advocate for women’s rights and provide essential humanitarian aid. Building on this commitment, in August 2022, Sunita Viswanath joined forces with Masuda Sultan to establish Abaad: Afghan Women Forward, a non-governmental organization (NGO) with a primary focus on providing humanitarian assistance and supporting economic initiatives for women. Abaad’s initial beneficiaries included individuals who had previously received support from Women for Afghan Women (WAW).
In her ongoing dedication to fostering collaboration, Sunita has partnered with various organizations, including the American Muslim Council (IAMC), to co-host several programs aimed at advancing shared goals and promoting positive change.
In 2020, Sunita Vishwanath encountered restrictions that prevented her from entering Ayodhya, compelling her to return from Patranga, situated at the border of Barabanki and Faizabad.
She frequently contributes articles expressing criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In one such article, she highlighted the notion that the BJP was disseminating false information to the Hindu population, suggesting that Hinduism was under threat in a country where Hindus constitute over 80 per cent of the population.
Sunita resides in Brooklyn, New York, alongside her spouse, children, and parents.
Sunita was chosen as one of the five Hindus to be part of NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ Faith Transition Team. Furthermore, she holds the distinction of being the sole Hindu included in the influential December 2021 Marquis Who’s Who list, recognizing notable individuals in faith-based circles.
Amit Malviya, the Chief of the BJP IT Cell, has drawn attention to a potential link between Jamaat-ISI and certain entities in the West several times. In particular, he mentioned that Sunita Vishwanath’s organization ‘Women for Afghan Women’ purportedly received funding from the Soros Open Society Foundation. Malviya additionally shared a visual representation illustrating Sunita Vishwanath’s associations.
Malviya has also alleged that Sunita serves as a representative of George Soros, who is claimed to have pledged $1 billion to interfere in India’s internal affairs through a network involving opposition leaders, think tanks, journalists, lawyers, and activists.
During a press conference in Delhi in June 2023, Smriti Irani, the Women and Child Development Minister of India brought attention to a photograph of Rahul Gandhi alongside Sunita Viswanath, taken during one of his meetings with think tanks in the US. Irani raised questions regarding Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with Sunita Vishwanath, who is allegedly funded by George Soros, during his visit to the United States.