Rupantar, meaning "social transformation", has been in operation since 1995. Rupantar strongly believes that making people aware of a problem and inspiring them to solve that problem is the only effective way to facilitate the betterment of their lives.
As an organisation, It vows to work for democracy and just governance at the grassroots level through mass participation. It promotes human rights including the rights of women, children, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. The organization has accumulated experience in the area of community mobilization and leadership, voice and accountability and the strengthening of local governance.
Rupantar envisions a just-society, which fosters harmony with the larger community, culture and nature. This includes:
- Recognition and respect for basic human rights
- Equal respect and value for all people, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, colour, caste and class
- Promoting and practicing the values of democratic participation at all levels
- Respect for culture and tradition
- Promotion of equal, respectful and sensitive relationships between men and women
- Special care for children, the elderly and disabled people
- Respect for nature and bio-diversity
- Practicing the values and not just the methodology, of “Participation”
- Downwards accountability and openness
Rupantar is dedicated to unlocking human potential, empowering people, strengthening democratic practice, promoting cultural diversity and protecting the environment.
Specifically, Rupantar works to:
- Establish democracy and governance through people’s participation
- Promote the rights of children, youth, women, the differently able and marginalized people
- Resuscitate, develop and foster folk cultural forms and methods to sensitize grassroots people
- Build peoples’ capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change and natural disasters and to conserve natural bio-diversity.
Rupantar carries out its activities under a long term programmatic vision articulated in its strategic planning for the period of 2014-18. The five programmatic areas are as follows:
- Democracy and political empowerment
- Peace and tolerance
- Disaster management and CCA
- Children and youth rights
- Popular media and folk theatre
Rupantar has trained about 10,000 elected local government officials and 15,000 community leaders of 500 local government bodies in service, delivery and promotion of good governance and democracy. In the Southwestern coastal zones of Bangladesh, Rupantar has supported 330,000 people from 60,000 households under Rupantar's post-disaster emergency response initiative. Over 5 million people have been provided with awareness, education and training on disaster preparedness and mitigation. Over 300,000 people in Southwestern Bangladesh have been provided with knowledge on Climate Change Adaptation and Bio-Diversity Conservation. 700 community based organizations (CBO) have also been trained on small scale water resource management.
Rupantar has also introduced open distance learning and through this project 100 facilitators have been trained and more than 20,000 children from 100 schools have benefited. Rupantar has raised awareness of human rights issues - including women and children's rights as well as those relating to trafficking-in-persons (TIP), this has included 325,000 people in 49 districts.
Another initiative taken by Rupantar is its “Promoting Engagement and Action for Countering Extremism (PEACE) Consortium.” Rupantar plays the role of "Principle Recipient (PR)" with the support of five different local organizations or "Sub Recipients (SRs)" to promote engagement and activism with a view towards countering extremism and building resilient communities. The project is funded by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) supported by GCERF-Country Support Mechanism (CSM) in Bangladesh and coordinated by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh.
The Consortium aims to facilitate the processes that foster peace and social harmony by maintaining secular and syncretic culture that works to prevent as well as counter radicalization and recruitment for extremism. PEACE Consortium envisions a violence free society of resilient communities fostering peace and harmony. This project will run from is spanned from the 1st July 2016 to the 31st December, 2018.
Rupantar believes in promoting sustainable development through media. Rupantar's cultural work, has included the revival of more than 10 folk forms, and raising awareness of said forms among over 1.5 million people annually. The "Pot song"(a kind of folk song) is such an example of revived folk forms by Rupantar. Rupantar collected this pot song way back in 1996 from the southern part of Khulna near the Sundarban impact zone. The organisation uses ‘’Pot Song” to promote mass awareness. This methodology is known as the “Rupantar Method of Development Communication.”