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THE ACTIONISTS

It’s about bloody time — menstruation education to empower and protect SA youth

It’s about bloody time — menstruation education to empower and protect SA youth
Period positivity actionist and “Minister of Menstruation” Candice Chirwa (Photo: Thom Pierce, The Actionists)

Period positivity actionist Candice Chirwa is on a mission to enhance the critical thinking of young South Africans while striving to create a safe, period-positive society and facilitate more accepting practices.  

The self-styled “Minister of Menstruation” knows what it’s like to feel shame about being on her period. From the age of 10, it was a secret that was never discussed at her school, and that all the girls went to great lengths to conceal.

“I really did feel like I was going to die. It was as if my childhood had come to an end and I had to mature quickly and hide this thing from everyone for 11 years. Nobody was talking about it.”

When she left school Candice Chirwa knew that she wanted to do something to help others and address issues of gender inequality. She had a background in dramatic arts, debating and public speaking, and the passion to challenge the tired norms that she experienced on a daily basis. 

“We have to call a period a period. We have to call a vagina a vagina. If you are offended by that then you are offended by biology!”

In 2018 Candice founded Qrate, an NPO that gives workshops at schools and workplaces around the country. Their aim is to create a safe, period-positive society that does not regard menstruation as shameful but openly embraces it as a normal part of life. Their workshops are designed to facilitate workplaces, schools and homes in developing more accepting practices which provide support, information and resources in an empowering and affirming way.  

Through a process that they call ‘Eduliftment’, Candice aims to enhance the critical thinking skills of young people to help them navigate the more difficult parts of growing up. At Qrate, they do this through service, education and advocacy. 

As well as running her NPO, Candice hosts the podcasts “What The Relationship” and “Patriarchy Popcast”. She has also co-authored two books, the latest of which is titled Flow – The Book About Menstruation.

In 2020 Candice became the Minister of Menstruation and from her position as a social media thought leader she has created a platform to speak openly about periods, advocate for legislative change and to inspire everyone to be period positive. 

Given that at least 50% of the population are people that menstruate, that cannot be a bad thing. DM

The Actionists was launched in early 2023 by photographer Thom Pierce. It consists of on-the-ground problem solvers, community activists, climate campaigners and human rights defenders who don’t just talk but who take direct action. They’re the people you can go to when you don’t know where to turn; who won’t stop working for the change they want to see in the world. The Actionists is also a growing community of people who care about the future of South Africa.

Through a series of photographic stories, Pierce profiles a wide range of people around the country who are providing vital services, intuitive solutions and unrelenting activism.

Through the website, discussion forum and social media, the aim is to provide tangible ways for people to get involved. The intention is to inspire and inform, to challenge the idea that nothing is being done, to create a network of Actionists and to bring people who need help together with the people who can provide a solution. Nominate Actionists in your circle at www.theactionists.co.za or email [email protected]

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