Marissa Kokkoros started her journey in women’s rights doing field work with different organizations around the world. From her travels in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Nepal, Italy, Bosnia and more, she has studied and researched the social position of women and girls in different places. Marissa has spent time with sex workers in India’s red light districts and taught English to women and children in Italy, India, Nepal and Kenya. Marissa lived in Italy for over 5 years, which is where her experience with sex trafficking survivors began.
Through her travels and research, she has made strong ties and fostered deep relationships with fellow feminists and women’s rights defenders around the world. After a long time away from home, Marissa returned to Canada in 2013 and founded Aura Freedom International, plunging head-first into projects and programs addressing gender-based violence, something she feels very strongly about. Her research on different forms of violence against women in Nepal has been recognized by other human rights organizations. She has also been featured and supported by Half the Sky: an American feminist movement based on the book of the same name, written by journalists Sheryl Wu-Dunn and Nicholas Kristof. Marissa is also an active community leader in Toronto, lending her experience to different projects around the city addressing violence against women and girls and sexual exploitation, on top of her work with Aura Freedom International.
Sometimes radical and always bold, Marissa’s passion is watching the ripple effects of placing knowledge and power into the hands of women. Her ability to move people through her words and writing is helped by her theatrical past, including acting and singing and clowning in countries affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS. Her heart is wide open and her approach to problems is head-on, wasting no time. She is driven, yet remains compassionate in the face of the many atrocities that Aura Freedom works to eradicate. She credits her fierce mother for a lot in her life, saying “She taught me compassion through her actions. And she always made sure to tell me my worth. And I believed her.” Her dream is to see peace and freedom enjoyed by all women and girls, and it’s her love for her daughter that keeps the beat of her heart.