RAGFP Member Provides Visionary Peacebuilding Leadership

Cynda Collins Arsenault is a RAGFP member who serves on the Peacebuilder Committee of the Rotary Club of Boulder, a RAGFP Peacebuilder Club. She has 45+ years experience in peacebuilding while working in the non-profit sector in peace and justice, criminal justice, mental health, disability rights and environmental issues. She is Co-Founder and Board Member of One Earth Future (OEF) and the Arsenault Family Foundation. In her personal philanthropy, she focuses on bringing women’s critical skills to the table for solving the difficult problems we face, with a particular focus on women, peace and security. She founded and works with OEF’s initiative Our Secure Future- Women Make the Difference.  She is a member of the Women’s Donor Network, Women Moving Millions and The International Women’s Forum.  She is the founder of Women Powering Change, an annual gathering of women working to create a better world.

She has been the recipient of Peace Jam’s “Hero Award”, Boulder Business and Professional Women’s “Woman of the Year” and World Denver’s “Pathfinder” award.

This RAGFP member and Rotarian is a visionary peacebuilder working to secure peace in the oceans, on land, and even in the sky. Her many symposiums and peace projects bring together world leaders, Rotarians, and global peacebuilders who seek to identify and solve all obstacles to sustainable peace on earth. This even includes imaginative peacebuilding in space. She founded and is President of Secure World Foundation an operating foundation promoting cooperative solutions for secure and maintainable uses of outer space, looking upward to the future problems created by “space junk,” “space billboards,” and how disruptions in global communications systems could affect international peace infrastructures. Her foundation promotes cooperation between governments and industries to secure lasting and sustainable best practices in the ever-crowded orbit above earth’s atmosphere. RAGFP members and Peacebuilder Clubs provide solutions to present conflicts and they look to the future to prevent possible potential conflicts.

As founder of Our Secure Future- Women Make the Difference (OSF) she works to provide empowerment for women and ensure they have full participation in all policy decisions regarding peace and conflict resolution in governance around the world. Her foundation is a support organization for UN Security Council resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace, and Security, which passed unanimously in October of 2000. Cynda works to give women a seat at the table at the highest levels of decision making.

According to OSF-Women Make the Difference “UNSCR 1325 is the first formal recognition by the international community of the critical roles women play in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The mandate brings attention to gender equality in all aspects of international peace and security decision-making. UNSCR 1325 is based on the four pillars of participation, protection, prevention, and relief and recovery. The UN Security Council subsequently adopted additional resolutions that focus on ending conflict-related sexual violence, addressing obstacles to implementation of UNSCR 1325, and calling for measures of accountability.”

In 2005, the UN Security Council mandated that each country develop a National Action Plan (NAP) detailing how they will ensure women’s full participation in creating durable peace and security. NAPs provide “governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society groups with a context-specific framework to ensure the inclusion of women in peacebuilding and politics; and gendered protections for women and girls, and men and boys resulting from violent conflict.” Her organization offers a National Action Plan Map that provides accountability of how each country is “producing meaningful change in funding, programs, practices, and policy at the country-level.”

Watch an Inspiring UN Video about UNSCR 1325 

OSF- Women Make the Difference also conducts peace projects, provides women with education, and offers symposiums that offer creative solutions to female empowerment. Moreover, this RAGFP member helps give women and girls a voice in peacebuilding. The Dear World, Move Us Toward Peace project showcases young women’s voices from around the world through letters sharing their personal visions for peace. It teaches girls to grow as negotiators, mediators or peacemakers, by providing the space to explore solutions and to understand they have the agency and capacity to be change-makers. The Dear World peace letter project is “only one small step towards amplifying women’s voices and supporting women’s full participation in international peace and security, which is a central goal of the women, peace and security agenda.”

Peacebuilding on Land and at Sea

Our RAGFP Rotarians Give Peace newsletter, published in November 2018, provided one story of how overfishing in our world’s oceans can lead to conflicts on land. Cynda’s One Earth Future organization works not only to create sustainable fishing practices at sea, but also create accountability for those would use earth’s oceans for the transport of arms, drugs, and human trafficking. They provide education to governments worldwide about how to recognize and secure the oceans from nefarious practices that create conflict in our modern world. A few of their recent positive peace projects and symposiums include:

The symposium brought together the 21 members of the Fisheries Conflict Research Consortium, a group which is spearheaded by Secure Fisheries and leads the way in research and understanding of fisheries conflict. The symposium established partnerships across academic disciplines, increased understanding of fisheries conflict, and generated action items to address fisheries conflict in ways that can lead to sustainable peace.

Cynda’s foundation OEF published a report on the growing aquaculture industry in Lake Victoria, examining gendered contributions to food security, representation in fisheries activities, and opportunities and barriers facing women in aquaculture. They sought to empower women in sustainable economic opportunities in Africa and provided a best practices outline for gender equality in this industry. (Photo left by McKay Savage.) Read the full report.

OEF participated in the Our Ocean Conference hosted by the Republic of Indonesia. The theme, “Our Ocean, Our Legacy,” embodied the desire of delegates to drive political will in taking actions to preserve the ocean’s health. Maritime Security, one of six pillars of the conference, drew attention to the problems of illegal fishing, trafficking in arms and drugs by sea, human slavery on fishing vessels, and the links between poor maritime governance and human conflict.

One Earth Future Foundation co-sponsored the inaugural Peacebuilding M&E Solutions Forum on October 23, 2018 with The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium and the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. This Forum offered an occasion for sharing creative, flexible, and successful strategies to pressing Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) problems in the peacebuilding field. OEF facilitated, captured and shared best practices, lessons learned, methods, and approaches to show evidence of peacebuilding interventions such as outcomes that create a reduction in violence and increased cooperation between communities.

One Earth Future sponsored the Colombian Peace in the Balance: A Panel Discussion of International Experts. This Symposium convened an international group of experts in October 2018 with a diverse set of governmental, ethnic, gender and international perspectives to take stock of the current challenges, prospects and paths forward to achieve sustainable and inclusive peace in the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict in Colombia.

All Rotarians are peacebuilders because they promote positive peace initiatives and service above self as a foundation of sustainable peace in their local communities. Cynda is involved in visionary international peacebuilding initiatives around the world and her many contributions to peace include her work serving on the peacebuilder committee of the Rotary Club of Boulder. We’ve also documented the many outstanding peace projects and initiatives of this outstanding RAGFP Peacebuilder Club in this Top 5 Membership Countries newsletter. Rotarians join RAGFP to be connected in a global network of peacebuilders. We are honored to wage peace with RAGFP members like Cynda and all the Rotarian peacebuilders who comprise the great fellowship of Rotary International.