Minister of Menstruation

Posted by Flux on 

11 May 2023

Interview with Candice Chirwa – Menstrual Health Activist and Founder

In South Africa, seven million menstruators miss school, university, or work due to period poverty every month. Period poverty has been described as a form of human rights violation and contributes to bigger issues that exacerbate inequalities. Candice Chirwa is a young menstrual health activist and founder of QRate – a non-profit organisation that seeks to end period poverty in South Africa. Candice will be part of our Generation Z Immersion Experience, taking place on the 15th June this year. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

CC: My academic background is that I have a Masters in International Relations and I was born and raised in Johannesburg, with Malawian heritage.

Tell us about your organisation QRATE?
CC: It was founded in 2018 as a way to address the awkwardness surrounding how we talk about puberty and sexual reproductive health for young people. We seek to empower young people through digital content and workshops. Our core focus at the moment is menstrual health. It’s always about ensuring that the transition from childhood to adulthood is never an awkward time. Often people reflect on when they were starting puberty, how they felt ashamed or terrified or that they didn’t have enough information. At the moment, we are running workshops. Since 2019, we’ve impacted over 2000 participants over 3-4 provinces in South Africa.

What are your menstruation workshops?
CC: When I was creating these workshops, I was creating a guideline of all the information I needed when I started my period in a way that wasn’t biassed, a way that was more affirming, empowering and also allowed for the participants to feel comfortable enough to ask questions around menstrual health.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of the youth?
CC: Often, young people are used as a token when it comes to policies and politics. They are never actually used for the right reasons in terms of actually employing young people to lead or have a seat at the table to make decisions around issues that impact them directly. They want young people to be included in things yet there is this misconception that young people are not ready. Give young people the opportunity to prove that misconception wrong. Young people are going to be the largest demographic in Africa and we are not seeing representatives in the political space where decisions are being made. It’s going to have devastating consequences later on. It’s really important that if we want young people to lead, we actually implement that notion as well. 

Have you worked within the traditional workspace? If no, why not?
CC: I worked for the United Nations. I was a junior research consultant. It wasn’t the best environment for the type of person I am. I felt that I needed things to be done immediately. I also found there to be a lot of discrimination elements. I wanted to run my own organisation that could do the work without any judgement or bias, so I decided to be a social entrepreneur. 

What can corporations do to better serve their young employees?
CC: From the perspective of menstrual health, there are conversations around implementing paid menstrual leave that are taking place. Are workspaces period positive enough? Access to a wellness room for times of extreme period pain could also be an example of a way businesses can be more period positive. In addition to menstrual issues, ensuring that they are providing workspaces that are conducive for young people to contribute their best, such as mental health support, would also be recommended. 

By Faeeza Khan

Flux Trends is proud to announce the launch of the Flux Innovation Tour 2023: Meet the Solution-Based, Future Innovators Defining the New World Order.

Join us for this unique full-day tour that is designed to simultaneously shift your thinking and challenge your perceptions of the innovation process by – literally – introducing delegates to the future. Specifically, by introducing you to the young innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs building the future of South Africa, Africa, and the world. 

CPD Points and level: 5 CPD POINTS at MPSA Level Designated Members

AMSA Designated Members can attend the Gen Z Immersion Experience and claim these CPD points as well.

Category:  Non-Marketing and Marketing

CPD Approval Number: MA FT 23003

Certificate of completion to be loaded onto MarkEdonline to claim CPD points.

Image credit: Aunt Flo

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