Ashish Bajracharya

2017 Winner

Position: Associate & Cambodia Country Representative
Organization: Population Council
Current Location: Cambodia, Asia

Ph.D. in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University

Additional Degrees and Certifications:
• M.S., Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University
• B.A., Economics, Ohio Wesleyan University

Awards Received:

Nepal Vidhya Bhushan Gold Medal Class A
Awarding Organization:
Awarded by the President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav.
Date Awarded:
September 8, 2013

Fred H. Bixby Postdoctoral Fellowship
Awarding Organization:
Population Council
Date Awarded:
October 15, 2008

Ashish Bajracharya is the Country Representative of the Population Council’s office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and an Associate with the Council’s Social and Behavioral Science Research Program. Dr. Bajracharya is a social demographer and policy analyst who specializes in rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of health systems strengthening and health financing interventions for reproductive health and family planning and programs for adolescents and vulnerable youth in developing countries. His research has a particular focus on South and Southeast Asia, where his work covers five countries—Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam—and spans all three programs at the Council: Reproductive Health; Poverty, Gender and Youth; and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Bajracharya leads implementation science research under the Council’s flagship USAID-funded Evidence Project in Cambodia and Bangladesh, including the research and policy portfolio on WorkerHealth, a 2.5-year, $3.8 million USAID initiative working to improve sexual and reproductive health and family planning outcomes of women who work in Cambodia’s readymade garment industry. Prior to relocating to Phnom Penh to lead the Council’s office in Cambodia in 2015, Dr. Bajracharya worked in the Council’s offices in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2012–15) and Hanoi, Vietnam (2011–12). He began his career at the Population Council as a Fred H. Bixby Postdoctoral Fellow in Poverty, Gender and Youth in 2008, based at Population Council’s New York City headquarters. Dr. Bajracharya received his PhD in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University in 2009, where he specialized in social demography and human development. He is a native of Nepal.

“Ashish is a passionate family planning researcher and advocate. A social demographer by training, he specializes in adolescents and vulnerable groups. His most recent work has focused on innovative workplace and health financing interventions.

– Julia Bunting, President at Population Council

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Over the last 8 years, my work has focused on research on how to improve access to family planning for the most vulnerable groups in South and Southeast Asia. I have led quasi-experimental evaluations of reproductive health and family planning interventions in Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh, which have informed the scale up of programs. In Nepal and Bangladesh, I have led research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and demographic transitions, enabling innovative policy and program design and implementation. Currently, I co-lead an initiative to improve access to family planning services to over 50,000 female garment workers in Cambodia, through implementation science research, improved service delivery, policy advocacy, and the engagement of public and private stakeholders.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I became keenly aware of the multiplicative effects of family planning as I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on how women’s labor force participation in the developing world was changing their roles as parents and the wellbeing of their families. With the focus of my work on women’s empowerment in countries like Cambodia, Nepal, and Bangladesh, I have seen first hand the transformative effect of family planning in promoting healthier families, gender equity and the prosperity of entire nations.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

As I grow as a leader in family planning, I am increasingly cognizant of the importance of combining cutting edge research with its effective translation into strategic messages for non-researcher and policymaker audiences. Thus, I actively embrace new technologies and utilize non-traditional means of advocacy including documentary photography and social media to tell stories from the research findings to advocate for family planning investments to a broad range of stakeholders.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work?

As an avid photographer, I would utilize the $1000 grant to produce a documentary photography feature on the challenges faced by women working in the garment sector in Cambodia. It would feature a day in the life of a garment factory worker highlighting the challenges she faces in her household, with child care, work-family balance, her access to critical RH and FP services, and to potentially to tell a story of the power of FP in the lives of these women, providing a visual nuance to my work.

Video Introduction

Photos of the nominee in the field/at work