Student Awards
04 June 2020

Samhita S. Ayaluri and Karun Gopinath Receive 2020 Davis Projects for Peace Award

Samhita and Karun are both pursuing a Master in Development Studies. Their project, “Safe Word”, was created out of a responsibility they felt to protect the more than 450 million children from their homeland, India. For them, this is one way forward on the march towards peace. 

Could you explain your Project for Peace?

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in India is rampant, affecting four children every hour. Our project, “Safe Word”, essentially targets the gap in the awareness on CSA in India. 

Both Karun and I have worked with schools to bring awareness among children in India and noticed that they often cannot differentiate between safe and unsafe touch. CSA is an act of violence against children and mitigating it would mean promoting peace. 

Drawing from our personal experiences, and performing a need analysis, we planned a large-scale sustainable drive with a two-pronged strategy towards bridging the gap among children in schools, which caught the attention of the board of Davis Projects for Peace 2020.

What does being awarded the Prize mean for you both?

We were delighted when we heard the news! We knew that as agents of change and two passionate students, we could bring in the change in our society effectively. 

This also means that in a little more than a year from now, many children will be able to attempt to protect themselves and others from abuse, maintain their physical and mental health and peacefully grow socio-economically. It would also mean that the country would move one step closer to reducing the incidents of child sexual abuse.

Were there things you learned at the Institute that inspired, encouraged, helped you?

We learned that opportunity is ripe to drive change. Be bold and take ownership for the world's largest development challenges. 

The strong academic foundation set at the Graduate Institute helped us deliver a specific solution for the challenge put forth by the Davis Projects for Peace.

The current foundation is an entry point for the work we will carry out in the days to come, and applying our knowledge from the Institute, from policy to implementation and our own personal experiences, will help in driving effective impact.
Internationalist and philanthropist, Kathryn W. Davis, inspired the Projects for Peace initiative upon her 100th birthday, when she committed USD 1 million to fund 100 peace projects with the hope of encouraging and supporting today’s motivated youth to develop their own peace-building ideas. In addition to her widespread philanthropic work, Dr Davis was also an alumna of the Graduate Institute.