Shanta Thapalia

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1991
Legal Aid and Consultancy Center(LACC)


This profile was prepared when Shanta Thapalia was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
Shanta's mentoring program draws on lawyers, judges, government officials, university professors, social workers, and other members of the emerging professional class. The program selects women from poor, often remote, rural areas and operates out of Tribhuvan University's Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC), a private nonprofit established for the protection and promotion of the dignity and well-being of women and children.

The mentors, each matched with a young woman, are specifically interested in women's issues. They give their time and counsel, guiding the women patiently past each barrier. Their guidance develops a trust, a trust that should increase female enrollment and reduce the very high dropout rate of women law students.

The program has several important reform implications: it is a model for a new approach to legal education in Nepal. It will also help to bring social change, forcing the community to accept women at senior levels in the workforce.

As law students, these women jump into counseling, providing legal aid to poor women, building both the students' skills and, it is hoped, a commitment to serving that will guide them once they graduate. In the meantime, these law students are dramatically increasing the legal assistance available to Nepali women.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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