Sexual health activist challenges stigmas surrounding menstruation through education.

“South Africans associate menstruation with shame.” This was the focus of the TEDx talk by Wits alumnus Candice Chirwa at the Waterfall Standing Nation event in Midrand on Thursday, February 27.

 “We socialise our girls to be ashamed of their periods before they even get them and this perpetuates a culture of silence. We need a culture that values health education”, said Chirwa.

Chirwa told Wits Vuvuzela that “Universities need to have programmes that go beyond ten minute orientations. Large organisations need to improve access to sanitary products and there should be an on-campus sex therapist”.

“We need to start by removing the shame about our bodies and if we want to be part of a period-positive world, we have to start talking about it”, added Chirwa, 24. 

“We educate young children by equipping them to make responsible decisions – not equipping them with fear. Education about sexual health needs to be in a safe space”, added Chirwa.

Chirwa graduated from Wits University in 2019 with a Masters in International Relations. She is the co-author of Perils of Patriarchy, a book series that aims to educate readers on oppressive patriarchal systems in our society, and the founder of Qrate, a non-profit focusing on encouraging critical thinking and engagement among youth in South Africa. Ted is an American non-profit that aims to spread ideas and information through talks hosted all over the world. Online, Ted talks are viewed at a daily rate of 1,5 million times. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Former Wits student Candice Chirwa spoke at a TEDx event in Midrand on Friday, February 28. Chirwa emphasised the need to normalise discussions about menstruation. Photo: File