What is Our Secure Future?
Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference (OSF) is a program of One Earth Future (OEF). OEF, co-founded in 2007 by Marcel Arsenault and Cynda Collins Arsenault, is a private operating foundation seeking to create a more peaceful world through collaborative, data-driven initiatives. As a program of OEF, we believe in peace through governance, and strive to catalyze systems that eliminate the root causes of war. We expect excellence, are relentlessly empirical, are stewards of the long term, and solve problems by engaging multiple stakeholders.
Established as an OEF program in 2016, OSF supports the goals of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. As a result of consultations carried out during the first year of the program with multiple WPS stakeholders across the globe, we believe that developing a shared vision for the WPS agenda, collaborating on common narratives, and influencing new and existing funding sources to take a greater interest in women peacebuilders, are paramount to making progress in the field.
What is your mission?
Our Secure Future’s mission is to strengthen the Women, Peace and Security movement in order to enable more effective policy decision-making for a more peaceful world. By strengthening the governance frameworks unique to WPS, OSF’s work ties directly to OEF’s mandate of peace through governance. Since the passage of UNSCR 1325 in October 2000, the WPS governance framework has expanded to include multiple General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, and to embrace the many existing legal obligations and policy commitments developed by the international community. Increasing the participation of women in decision-making in governance structures, and increasing the use of a gender perspective in international peace and security matters, are critical to achieving peace through governance.
How do you work?
We understand that funders influence policy agendas by choosing to put resources and time into certain topics and not others. Therefore, we also understand that we are playing a role in the broader policy field by acting as advocates of gender equality in international security decision-making, as well as by leveraging our resources along with the capacity, expertise, and talent of our partners.
Our Secure Future believes that women make the crucial difference in achieving more effective governance and lasting peace. OSF aims to strengthen the Women, Peace and Security movement by:
- Amplifying women’s voices,
- Strengthening the global network of women peacebuilders, and
- Promoting committed action by multiple stakeholders to turn policy into practice.
Partnerships, collaboration, and bridge-building are ways to leverage the strengths of the few for the benefit of many. Our focus on the primacy of partnerships means that consultation with chronically marginalized groups, especially women, is a key activity for OSF. This group is our primary stakeholder. Our Secure Future is relationship-centered, and we have strict criteria for how we partner.
What are OSF’s criteria for partnerships?
- Our Secure Future is not a grant-making organization.
- We are interested in both contributing to and conducting our own cutting-edge research that shows thought leadership.
- We support the convening of WPS-related events and women’s participation in those events.
- We partner with organizations with established, credible, global networks of peacebuilders, and with others committed to advancing Women, Peace and Security.
- We support the field through building technical capacity, co-sponsoring or convening events that create space to share good practices and great ideas to advance the WPS agenda.
Who do you collaborate with?
Some examples include:
- Carter Center
- Center for Global Security Cooperation
- Compton Foundation
- Denver University, Korbel School of International Studies, Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative (IGLI)
- Empower Peace
- Georgetown University, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
- Global Greengrants
- Inclusive Security
- International Peace Institute
- Nobel Women’s Initiative
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Peace is Loud
- Protect the People
- United Nations Association
- US Naval War College
- Urgent Action Fund
- Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), International Civil Society Action Netwok (ICAN)
- Women’s Middle East Leadership Network
- Woodrow Wilson Center, Women in Public Service Project
- World Pulse
- US Civil Society Working Group (CSWG) on Women, Peace and Security (member, ongoing)
In addition to the above list, Our Secure Future continues to grow its relationships with other individuals and organizations. We anticipate this list will continue to expand as our program gains momentum over the coming years.
What are some examples of OSF’s convenings?
We use our convening power to strengthen the global network of women peacebuilders and women-led organizations working on international peace and security issues. We do this by bringing together multiple actors across sectors to foster new avenues of collaboration.
These gatherings are an opportunity to provide space for long-term strategic thinking about Women, Peace and Security policy and practice. We try to ensure that women peacebuilders represent a significant portion of our participants. This supports our goal of amplifying women’s voices in international peace and security decision-making because we are able to:
- Capture women peacebuilders’ analysis and perspectives.
- Connect women peacebuilders to the larger policy and practitioner community.
- Share their views, expertise and analysis with multiple stakeholders who may have had limited engagement, both with women peacebuilders, and with the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Some examples of recent convenings include:
Designing Our Secure Future: In its inaugural year Our Secure Future, along with partner Nobel Women’s Initiative, brought together 20 peacemakers from all over the world at the Strathmere Retreat Center near Ottawa, Canada. During the convening we worked together using methods drawn from futurists, scenario planners, and storytellers. We anchored our future scenario planning in the forces that shaped the current environment. We also imagined what the future might hold. Together we began to shape a more desirable future in which a WPS community of practice plays a key role.
Women, Peace and Security Curriculum Consortium: In partnership with Peace is Loud and the Naval War College, Our Secure Future brought together 26 academics, military officials, and policy practitioners for a half-day WPS Curriculum Consortium. We identified an increasing number of educational and training resources available on Women, Peace and Security, coupled with a lack of information sharing between sectors, and the increased demand by students who want to study WPS and learn to implement it in their current and future work. Therefore, we hope to initiate a conversation about the challenges and benefits of a common understanding of teaching WPS. Furthermore, we hope to strengthen the network of academics and practitioners working on Women, Peace and Security, through exploration, dialogue, sharing of resources, and challenging our existing expectations.
What are some examples of your research?
Our Secure Future conducts independent research to narrow existing information gaps in the field. We focus on producing actionable research to influence policy-making in international peace and security. The use of a gender perspective is a core element of all our research and we are informed and guided by the needs of the field. Activists, academics, policymakers, and security actors all contribute to our understanding of how to enhance our collective vision of Women, Peace, and Security. We consult with our partners regularly for their feedback on what is needed to support the work of multiple actors who are engaged in implementing Women, Peace and Security policies and programs globally.
For example, OSF produced an independent expert study titled Not the Usual Suspects, in which we analyze the challenges and opportunities when engaging male leaders in the field of Women, Peace and Security. By conducting a series of over 50 individual interviews, Our Secure Future, in partnership with Jolynn Shoemaker, Senior Consultant on International Affairs and Gender Equality, have been able collect the perspectives and experiences of men who demonstrate personal commitment to promoting gender equality in peace and security policy and practice. This report is a first step in collecting the views of men who are engaging and supportive of WPS related gender equality goals.
Other projects include conducting polling on how women define or redefine security in order to transform the current approach to security thinking, and convening new and existing funders with women peacebuilders to stimulate new sources of funding for the field.
Do you give grants?
No, we do not solicit or give grants. Instead, our approach is to engage with multiple stakeholders, and explore new ideas and new ways to collaborate with potential partners to strengthen the WPS network.
THE LEGAL AND POLICY COMMITMENTS THAT SUPPORT THE WORK OF OUR SECURE FUTURE
Existing legal and policy documents that align with Our Secure Future’s work to put policy into practice:
- The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights and subsequent human rights instruments including: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, The Convention on the Rights of the Child, The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
- Declarations and action plans of the UN Conference on Women in Beijing and the Population Conference in Cairo and follow-up conferences
- UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and subsequent resolutions
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially Goal #5 on Gender Equality and Goal #16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and the agreements made at the Conferences on Financing for Development
- The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
- The Treaty on European Union
- The EU Action Plan for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment through EU external relations 2016-2020
- The EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019
- The Comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
- The European Commission’s Strategy for Equality between Women and Men 2010-2015, and its successor, relevant guidelines, Council conclusions, and other documents
- US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (Revised 2016)
- US Executive Order—Instituting a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (EO 13595)
- US Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 (S.1141)