What is Our Secure Future? 

Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference (OSF) was founded in 2016 as a program of One Earth Future (OEF). Our work aims to integrate WPS into mainstream policy-making in order to achieve better peacebuilding, national security, and social outcomes. This is achieved through consultations with multiple WPS stakeholders across the world, collaborating on common narratives and influencing new and existing funding sources to take a greater interest in women peacebuilders. In 2024, OSF moved to OEF's sister foundation, PAX sapiens - part of Marcel Arsenault and Cynda Collins Arsenault’s network of philanthropic institutions working to build a more peaceful world. 

What is our mission?

Our Secure Future’s mission is to strengthen the Women, Peace and Security governance frameworks in order to enable more effective policy decision-making. By strengthening the governance frameworks unique to WPS, OSF’s work ties directly to our foundation’s mandate of peace through governance more effectively. 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, as well as the use of a gender perspective in international peace and security matters, are critical to achieving peace through governance.

Why is there only one comma in “Women, Peace and Security”?

The United Nations founding documents and subsequent publications relating to UNSCR 1325, use the phrase, “Women, Peace and Security” without an Oxford comma. This is because “Women, Peace and Security” emphasizes the importance of women’s participation and decision making in peace and security; Ambassador Chowdhury, then-President of the UN Security Council, originally recommended the phrase “Women and Peace and Security”. However, the US National Action Plan on WPS and the US WPS ACT of 2017 use the phrase, “Women, Peace, and Security” with an Oxford comma. Both versions are used depending on whether they are referring to the UN or to the US context. 

Does WPS Only Benefit Women?

No, research shows that meaningfully incorporating women into decision-making improves outcomes for all members of society, not just women. For example, when women meaningfully participate in peace processes, the resulting peace is 35% more likely to last 15+ years. Higher levels of gender equality are also associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states.

WPS needs male partners who ally with, listen to, speak with (not for), and open doors for women’s groups and individuals working to advance gender equality within international peace and security efforts. Without male allies on board, women’s rights cannot fully be realized. Women’s equality and advancement is not a zero sum game: women entrepreneurs contribute to the economy, educated women lead to better social and economic outcomes, and promoting women’s rights is promoting equal rights. For more information on male allies, check out our project page Mobilizing Men as Partners for WPS.

OSF Advisory Committee Members

Our Secure Future also collaborates frequently with members of its Advisory Committee and with its fellows and partners.

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:

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. 

Civil Society Consultation on the Global Fragility Act (GFA) with the Departments of State, Defense, and USAID: OSF was asked to organize civil society consultations with the US Departments of State, Defense, and USAID. We organized and moderated three rounds of consultations on Tools for Advancing Gender Integration into GFA Country Strategies, developing interagency indicators and metrics to measure impact, and on how WPS within the Global Fragility Act interacts within the realm of great power competition with Russia and China in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and, specifically, Iran. We moderated the consultation jointly with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the McCain Institute for International Leadership, with Civil Society participants from various organizations including, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Mercy Corps, Smash Strategies, and US Institute of Peace.

Women, Peace and Security: How Women in Sudan are Charting a New Course: In partnership with the McCain Institute, Our Secure Future co-hosted the event “Women, Peace and Security: How Women in Sudan are Charting a New Course.” The event highlighted the incredible work women peacebuilders in Sudan did to oust former President, Omar al-Bashir, how they are working to create a more inclusive and democratic Sudan for the future, and challenges they face. Introductory remarks by Mrs. McCain was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Paul Fagan, Director Human Rights and Democracy Programs at the McCain Institute and Sahana Dharmapuri, Director of Our Secure Future.

Women, Peace and Security: The Role of Women in Belarus: In partnership with the McCain Institute, Our Secure Future co-hosted the event “Women, Peace and Security: The Role of Women in Belarus” to highlight the role women are playing in the historic protests, what they are calling for, and how the international community can support their efforts. Introductory remarks by Paul Fagan, Director Human Rights and Democracy Programs at the McCain Institute and Sahana Dharmapuri, Director of Our Secure Future were followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Natalia Arno, Founder & President, Free Russia Foundation. 

Mobilizing Men as Partners for Women, Peace and Security (MMPWPS): Spearheaded by Ambassador Donald Steinberg, MMPWPS started by engaging global figures and their senior advisors from dozens of international institutions, NGOs, and governments at a convening in New York City on March 22, 2018, in the margins of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The participants agreed that while women-led efforts that created the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda have made considerable progress, men must be part of the solution.

How does OSF conduct its 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.

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, has been able to 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.

In Spring 2018, OSF, in partnership with Peace Is Loud and the US Naval War College, released Grooming the Next Generation of Foreign Policymakers: Women, Peace and Security in Practice. The policy brief, based on the inaugural Women, Peace and Security Curriculum Consortium, outlines key findings and recommendations from experts in the field who have worked or are currently working to develop and implement WPS curricula at their own institutions. This brief is a first step toward developing a baseline for WPS curricula and identifying core competencies that should be included in all WPS education or training programs.

OSF, along with partners World Pulse and Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership, released the findings of Transforming Security: Women Define Security Differently. The project features crowdsourced stories and experiences of over 400 women from 62 different countries on the topics of security, violence, and representation, and how women’s security priorities differ from those currently in place. The results show that the current narratives surrounding traditional security have gaping holes in terms of support and protection for those on the ground. 

The Legal and Policy Commitments that Support WPS:

Existing legal and policy documents that align with Our Secure Future’s work to put policy into practice: