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Canadian Women Making a Difference: Kharri Oosthuyzen

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are sharing a series of interviews with incredible women who #PressForProgress and are making a difference in Canada and around the world. Check our blog throughout the month of March for fresh inspiration!


Name: Kharri(ssa) Oosthuyzen
Occupation: Media Communications Director and Campaign Manager
Age: 28
How she's making a difference: Using her media and branding expertise to elevate young talent and give a voice to the vulnerable.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kharrissa, but everyone just calls me Kharri. Born in East, London, South Africa, my stay on the continent was short lived as my parents packed up, left their families and headed over to Canada while I was still young. We traveled and ventured to different cities across the country, leaving our mark on the communities we served in. I always grew up with parents who had humanitarian hearts, so helping others was always in my nature.

I am currently building my own digital marketing and branding company that is dedicated to helping young talent, new businesses, and entrepreneurs find their space in the online community and social media world.

2) What unique gifts do you bring to the world?
Growing up, I was always encouraged to dream and strive for things that seemed out of reach or near impossible to achieve, but because of that I was able to explore my ability to write, to play music, to create art, and inspire others.

I have a heart for people. I like to help others discover who they are and what they can bring to the world and those around them, whether it be those hidden talents they didn’t know they had, or helping them find the confidence to share the ones they do.

I want to give a voice to those who don’t have one, especially young women, and breathe life into the goals, dreams, and visions within them.

3) How are you making a difference right now?
I help facilitate a national fundraiser each year called Breaking Boards Breaking Chains through an organization called Martial Arts for Justice, working to support the cause of International Justice Mission (IJM) Canada.
The goal here is to see women and children free of sexual abuse, exploitation, violence, and all forms of modern-day slavery.

4) What motivates you to do what you do?
Well, I have a very smart and headstrong mother. Seeing her determination and watching her achieve her goals definitely motivates me to want to do the same, and guide other women into into a place of self-empowerment.

I love seeing people shine and fulfilled in their element. This is a huge motivation for me. If I can help to provide a platform for success that inspires and supports growth and development, I’m all in!

5) Why are you passionate about the work of IJM? How do you show your support?
I think what IJM is doing is really something. You guys are making such an impact in places that not a lot of people would dare to go. This is no small feat and it is not easy to deal with some of these cases, but IJM is doing it.
I hate seeing anyone, let alone young women and children having to go through the kind of brutality and dehumanization that goes on in the world. I appreciate the fact that IJM doesn’t just put a bandaid on the situation. IJM goes to the core, to the root of these serious crimes and issues by way of the justice and social systems in each country.

6) What would you like to see happen for women in the future?
I would love to see more women empowered in the political arena in terms of decision making and policy setting to influence social change. It is slowly happening. We are seeing it now. More and more women are rising up. But, I want to see this happen in a healthy way where strong women not only support each other, but the men around them.
I want to see women cultivate an attitude of partnership rather than the attitude of dominance when it comes to authority and power in business, politics, and social settings. The change happens first with us, with one another, before we can really impact gender based issues on a global scale.

7) If you could have a coffee chat with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Besides my mother? I know it may sound cliche, but definitely Maya Angelou. She just had this regalness about her and a light that shone through her spoken and written work that inspires a sort of reverence. Being able to learn from someone as wise as her would be definitely be life changing.

8) What’s your favourite inspiring quote?
This is not the favourite, but it is a favourite…
Thea von Harbou, from the movie Metropolis, said this: "The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!”

9) What advice do you have for the women in our audience who want to make a difference in the world?
I would say… don’t give up, partner up! Find other women or people who have the same vision and desires as you. Start small, but push forward to achieving this goal together because if we cannot be united in what we are doing, then making a difference will only remain an idea, a want, a longing, but never a reality.

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