The South Asian Alliance of Grassroots NGOs (SAAGN) is a regional alliance of grassroots NGOs working in the field of child rights and basic services for children and their families in five South Asian countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Butterflies founded the National Alliance of Grassroots NGO’s (NAGN) and thereafter SAAGN with such likeminded NGO’s who share the common ideology of children’s participation, democratic work space and the hope to build a better world for children.
The alliance was formed after the World Social Forum was organized in Mumbai in 2004, which encouraged the participation of NGOs from some of the South Asian countries. Two initiatives of Butterflies- which were already being implemented in collaboration with NGOs in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Afghanistan further facilitated the formation of the NAGN for protection of children’s rights in August 2004.
In April 2005, Butterflies organized a South Asia level training workshops on Children’s Development Khazana & Journalism and Print Media in New Delhi. During the training workshop, a planning meeting of the representing heads of grassroots NGOs was organized on 24th April 2005. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the strategies to collectively promote child rights in the South Asian region. During the course of the meeting, various issues concerning child rights in the region were discussed. As a result, the idea of formation of a South Asia level alliance of grassroots NGOs for protection of children’s rights was evolved.
The philosophy behind coming together of the alliance is to support the cause and rights of marginalized children and communities for social transformation and to create collective social and political space for such organisations. The alliance was also envisioned to work towards strengthening the voices of grassroots NGOs and marginalized communities and enable them to participate effectively at all levels of the decision making processes in the government and civil society. One of the most important aspects of the philosophy is the alliance’s commitment to democracy, accountability and transparency, followed by the guiding principles of equality and mutual respect for all its constituents.
Today, the alliance comprises of a total of one hundred and thirty nine organizations throughout the South Asian region that are actively associated with the alliance. These NGOs possess a common outlook that emphasizes on democracy, harmony and gender equality as guideposts towards a more inclusive society. These NGOs have been working on varying lengths of time on fields as diverse as child rights advocacy, child labour, education and child participation. Therefore, the alliance strengthens these NGOs and enhances their bargaining power in the region vis-à-vis important stakeholders and those in authority, allowing for more effective regional co-ordination.
Hence these core tenets have enhanced the cohesive force of the SAAGN and have created a synergy among partners to stand united for the region’s children!