The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) welcomed CEU student Sumesh Shiwakoty, who is studying human rights law in the Department of Legal Studies, into the CGI University program and at its annual meeting March 3 to 5. During the meeting Shiwakoty presented a mobile app, Rakhsya Kawach, that he developed with his colleagues to address gender-based violence in Nepal.
More than one in four women in Nepal have experienced intimate partner violence according to the World Health Organization. For Shiwakoty, this hit him with an acute reverse culture shock when he returned to his home country after college. Seeing Nepal from a bird’s-eye view, he questioned what he took for granted while growing up in its male-dominated culture.
“When you come out of that mindset, one of the best things to learn is to unlearn and relearn,” said Shiwakoty in a release published by Pitzer College. After consulting with Nepali women activists about the challenges of domestic violence—especially in urban areas where it happens behind closed doors—Shiwakoty put his relearning into practice.
He gathered more than 20 friends and colleagues to develop the app Rakhsya Kawach (translated as “protection shield”) to equip Nepali women “in overcoming adversity and leading meaningful and fulfilling lives.” The app has a panic button to alert trusted contacts if a user faces a threat, and it also includes resources for scholarships and job opportunities for women.
Shiwakoty spoke about his app during CGI University’s 2023 annual meeting at Vanderbilt University, hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. This is the first of many opportunities coming to Shiwakoty. Since its inception, CGI University has helped 11,000 students from more than 160 countries and 137 higher education institutions to turn their ideas into action. CGI University’s 10-month curriculum focuses on developing early-stage social impact ideas into scalable projects and providing mentorship from entrepreneurs.
“I want to leave something better to the community," said Shiwakoty. After CEU, he plans to pursue his JD and study international law in the U.S. He writes commentaries about Nepal for newspapers such as The Nation, The Kathmandu Post, and The Times of India to raise funding for the Rakhsya Kawach project. (Most recently, Shiwakoty co-authored an article about fighting dengue in Nepal.) He also intends to reach out to more corporate partners in Nepal about his app, adding, “I want to show we can develop an app in Nepal with money that is already within the country."
During the CGI University annual meeting, Shiwakoty joined a private roundtable with President Clinton. Shiwakoty, who hopes to run for office in Nepal someday, asked Clinton for advice about committing to public service and his morals in a post-truth world where many people say anything to get votes.
Clinton shared that as president he asked Nelson Mandela if he hated the people who imprisoned him. Mandela replied that he did for a while, but he realized that no matter how they tortured him, he still had control over his mind and heart.
“President Clinton told me that every time life puts me in a situation where I might think of doing something that would pose a moral dilemma,” said Shiwakoty, “I should always remember that, like Mandela, I always control my own mind and heart.”
A version of this post originally appeared on the website of Pitzer College where Shiwakoty is an alum.