Home / Spiffy's Blog / Candice Chirwa: Fostering Conversations about Menstrual Health
Candice Chirwa: Fostering Conversations about Menstrual Health

Candice Chirwa: Fostering Conversations about Menstrual Health


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Candice Chirwa, founder and managing director, Qrate. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Candice, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Qrate addressing?

Candice: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. Qrate is my heart's response to the silence and stigma around menstruation. My personal challenge as the “Minister of Menstruation” is to break these barriers, creating a space where everyone, regardless of gender, can openly and confidently engage in conversations about menstrual health. Qrate is my way of empowering individuals with the knowledge they deserve, ensuring that no one feels isolated or uninformed in their journey.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Candice: Launching Qrate stems from my own first period experience at the age of ten. I found myself navigating a natural biological process without access to education or information. The silence and conditioning to avoid open discussions left me feeling isolated. This ignited a passion within me to ensure that no one else would have to face the confusion and stigma that I encountered. What keeps me going is witnessing the positive impact on people's lives, knowing that every conversation and workshop contributes to a more informed and empowered community. For me, being a menstrual activist is a commitment to breaking the cycle of silence and providing the education and support that individuals need from their very first period and beyond.

Spiffy: That’s inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Candice: The impact of Qrate extends beyond menstrual health education—it resonates in the lives of countless individuals. Our work primarily helps young people, providing them with the knowledge and tools to navigate menstruation confidently. Since 2019, we have reached over 10,000 young people (girls and boys included) to change the narrative surrounding periods. The ripple effect is seen in improved self-esteem, reduced stigma, and a more inclusive community that embraces the natural and diverse experiences of menstruation.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone/initiative by you or your org. What impact does that make?

Candice: One exciting initiative is Qrate's Period Positive Tour, which allowed the Qrate team the opportunity to travel to different provinces (states) in South Africa. Through collaborations with the private sector, we not only successfully engaged with an impressive count of 5,033 young people but also forged a meaningful partnership with a leading reusable pad company. The collaboration in donating reusable pads underscored our commitment to creating a sustainable period-positive world.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Candice: My passion for menstrual health is present in different sectors of my career. Affectionately known as the “Minister of Menstruation,” I am currently pursuing my PhD in international relations with a focus on menstrual health and human rights. My podcast, "Periodically Speaking," explores a variety of menstrual health topics, and "Flow: The Book About Menstruation" shares my insights. Proudly, I serve as a board member for Pandemic Periods, a global initiative shaping the narrative on menstrual health.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Candice—it’s been an honor!

Candice Chirwa is the founder and managing director of Qrate. Known as the “Minister of Menstruation,” she is a passionate advocate, academic, author, and PhD candidate. Beyond leading Qrate, she delves into menstrual rights as an academic, hosts the podcast "Periodically Speaking," and serves on the Pandemic Periods' board, shaping a global narrative on menstrual health. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 11, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.