Stephenie Foster Shares Advocacy Resources with GFWC Clubwomen
August 31, 2022
(From left: GFWC Chief of Operations Cheri Meyer, Stephenie Foster, and GFWC International President Deb Strahanoski)
On August 10, GFWC had the opportunity to sit down with speaker, author, and women’s advocate Stephenie Foster to discuss her wide-ranging work to ensure equality for women and girls around the world.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Foster has spent many years living in Washington, DC, and has traveled extensively for work, including about a year and a half in Afghanistan, where she worked for the United States Embassy. During her time in Afghanistan, Foster completed outreach to women’s organizations and civil society organizations with the goal of helping girls and women fully participate in the economy, politics, and government. For example, she worked on a grants program to provide seed funding to women’s organizations and women-owned businesses to help them not only grow their business but also to provide them with the skills necessary to run a profitable venture.
“The more that societies have afforded women opportunities, the stronger and more stable and prosperous those societies are,” Foster said.
Her work in Afghanistan and in other countries across the globe inspired Foster to write her book, Take Action: Fighting for Women & Girls. This well-sourced toolkit covers the basics of activism and advocacy and offers readers valuable information about specific issues related to women and gender equality.
“Globally, there are issues that I touch on in the book around what we can do to ensure there is equality for women and girls,” Foster said. “The reason that’s important is that we know from research that when women participate in the labor force at numbers that are equal to men, that economies grow and prosper. We also know that for every additional year that a girl or young woman goes to school, that there are a lot of positive outcomes not just for her and her family, but for her country and her community.”
Foster explained she set out to write Take Action: Fighting for Women & Girls because in her work she frequently receives questions from people about how to be a good advocate, what they can do to help, and how they can get started. This toolkit provides the framework that will be most effective in terms of defining the issue and how to develop a plan of action, she said.
As GFWC clubwomen are considering their own projects and advocacy work, Foster believes members are equipped with the tools they need to make a positive impact.
“GFWC clubs already have good connections with their community and that’s a key part. They understand their community, they understand the needs of their community, and what is important or what gaps might exist,” she said. “I think again what the book does is give people a good sense of what the best arguments are, how to ask questions, and what questions to ask, as well as how to be systematic at looking who the decision makers are.”
Foster added although effective advocacy can take time, it is essential to remember that everyone’s voice matters.
“It’s important for people to understand that there really are things that we can work on together even if we disagree on some issues and for people to use their voices to find out what those things are and keep moving ahead on them,” she said.
Patricia Porto has been an active member of the GFWC Brunswick Woman's Club since volunteering at an event in 2015 and making the decision to join the club.
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