Catherine Harry decided to start making positive changes after becoming dissatisfied with the lack of discussion on gender equity among Cambodian youth.
Among Cambodian youth who create their own luck, Catherine Harry is one of those who worked tirelessly to prove that we all have the right to make ourselves heard and that our voices make a real difference to the community.
Since Catherine was in 6th grade, she has always felt that there was something missing from education. That year, her teacher skipped the lesson on physical development and puberty, saying it’s common for people to already know about their bodies. It wasn’t until she got involved with NGOs working on a number of projects associated with reproductive health that she realized it was up to her to broaden the discussion and reach Cambodia’s youth.
It was then, in 2012, that the 26 year old Phnom Penh native decided to start her blog, A Dose of Cath. To better engage young people, she switched to a video blog on Facebook in 2017, where she gained public attention for being vocal on sex education and gender equality.
A Dose of Cath – Bringing Sex and Gender to the Table Against All Odds
Catherine was concerned about the audience’s reaction when deciding to make the first video because these topics are sensitive in Khmer society.
When she first began, Catherine noticed that very few people dared to speak out on sensitive topics and those that did were silenced by criticism or intimidation. No one was immune from this social stigma, not even Catherine herself.
However, she refused to stand by and watch people treat others unequally based on their gender. Whenever she saw discrimination and thought about how important sex education and gender equality are in our society, she came up with new ideas for her social media platform.
To encourage discussion on topics or views that are labelled as too sensitive or inappropriate for women, is what Catherine believes as a way to empower women, and promote equal rights.
Through her works in A Dose of Cath, Catherine is showing an example that everyone has the right to make themselves heard and it’s really important to speak up because everyone’s voice can make the change.
Turning Anger into Motivation for a Cause
The first vlog on A Dose of Cath was about virginity, which debuted to mixed reactions. Catherine said the video received a lot of engagement on the page, however, it was also the first time she received significant criticism.
“It’s because they’re hidden behind the phone’s screen. Only then they do speak without regard for the other person’s feelings,” Catherine said, recalling these virtual encounters.
She knows that the purpose of the criticism was to get her to stop talking because people believe it is shameful and inappropriate to speak openly about sexuality and reproductive health. Despite the pushback, she has no intentions of giving up her work.
Catherine said her motivation grows whenever she sees a victim of abuse blamed by the public for the way she dresses. She uses that resentment as a catalyst, motivating her to continue making videos and working on her task, no matter how difficult.
“Many people believe that anger is a negative emotion,” she said. “But anger is a motivating emotion for me.”
Getting Yourself Ready When Luck Arrives at Your Door
No one can tell when they will find a bit of luck, because chance is an uncontrollable force. However, Catherine believes that the only thing she can do is to work hard and be prepared, so that when luck comes her way, she can grasp it. This hard work and preparation have paid off.
Nowadays, besides her vlog, Catherine works as a mentor, a freelance reporter and translator, and also speaks at seminars. Thanks to her dedication, many organizations have recognized her work and she has frequently been invited to talk about topics such as gender equality and women’s reproductive health.
More recently, Catherine has become a mentor in “Generation Future,” UNICEF’s program calling young Cambodians to transform their potential into action and achievement. But throughout all of these endeavors, she has remained prepared for any opportunity that may arise.
“Every opportunity is like luck,” Catherine explained. ”But if we do not work hard to improve or strengthen ourselves in order to catch the luck, we will not be able to get it.”Catherine Harry – Founder A Dose of Cath
The Hope for Feminist Movement
Moving forward, Catherine is planning to take A Dose of Cath to more social media platforms. She already actively advocates for these topics on Tik Tok, where many young Cambodians spend time each day watching short videos and interacting with each other virtually.
However, she also hopes that A Dose of Cath can become more than just content on an online platform. Catherine believes it could be part of a larger feminist movement for change, demanding equal rights and equal represenation regardless of gender.
After a decade of work, she has observed changes in the tone of this discussion. She sees that many young people, particularly women, are more willing to talk about and debate sexual and reproductive health, as well as create workshops, Facebook pages, and educational videos on the subject.
She wishes for all young people to have the bravery to speak up and stand their ground when addressing difficult issues because we are all responsible for the change we want to see.
“Courage is something we can grow, and everyone’s voice matters,” Catherine said. “Only with your participation can change be brought about.”.
Editor Note: this article is a part of a promotional partnership with KampumEra that reports on the stories of Cambodian youth who created their own success.
This post is also available in: KH