Man Bahadur Chhetri
This profile was prepared when Man Bahadur Chhetri was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Kamlari Pratha is the practice by which poor families send their young daughters to work for landlords or wealthy families in the cities of Nepal. Man Bahadur uses the law to fight against the practice, making it illegal, and he uses economic incentives to create better alternatives for victims. Man Bahadur’s initiative, the Indentured Daughters Program (IDP), has become Nepal’s most effective organization advocating for and resettling bonded girls, who are also referred to as Kamlaris. He recognizes negative cultural norms and traditions as the primary deterrents to justice and full citizenship for them and is advocating for change from both the demand and supply side of the problem—the employers of bonded labor and the parents sending their daughters into servitude. Man Bahadur’s work is centered in the Dang District of Western Nepal—the area with the worst bonded labor problem. More than 1,600 girls have been rescued and are today enjoying their childhood and pursing formal education. IDP provides transitional skills development and leadership training programs to the parents of recently released children—designed to equip them with vocational skills needed to generate more income. Man Bahadur is helping the rescued Kamlaris and their parents act as effective social agents and role models among their village communities.