By Janet Gilman

We mostly hear myths about menstruation as South Africans. And often, these myths lead to young women to feeling embarrassed and outcasted for experiencing something that happens to them every month.


My experiences about menstruation were that I can’t cook for my dad or any male when I am on my periods cause bad luck would follow up. I can’t allow any woman on her periods to touch my hair or else my hair will fall off and last but not least I can’t be around men when on my periods cause it’ll make my blood flow heavier and I might lose a lot of blood.

Afrika Tikkun's students writing down their thoughts in QRATE's Menstruation workshop.
Afrika Tikkun’s students writing down their thoughts in QRATE’s Menstruation workshop.

“How many more myths and untrue stories should we hear, listen and digest about being a woman on her menstrual cycle?!”

It’s time we normalized menstruation and found pride with walking out of a classroom full of boys and see no harm nor embarrassment about flashing our pads, tampons, and menstrual cups just so it suits best for boys, men or the society.

Menstruation workshop
Smiles all around! 

Luckily, I was able to participate in the Menstruation workshop offered by QRATE. I found the workshop to be fun, dynamic and engaging. QRATE has taught about being confident in your own skin, body and own life without thinking “What are people going to say?” The workshop opened our minds about being content with the way you are born. The QRATE workshops not only teach girls about menstruation but about how oneself can be proud of being a WOMEN.

I am glad to have experienced QRATE’s Eduliftment!

Janet creatively explaining the tampon.






Janet Nomveliso Gilman is a 22 years old student who is certified in Project Management. Janet is also a Young Urban Citizen and a passionate activist for Gender-Based Violence & LGBTQI+ rights.

Follow her on Instagram: (@gilmanjanetn) and Twitter (@janetgilman) 

Masculinity 4 Kids

Masculinity 4 Kids

Son: “Daddy, what does it mean to be a man?”

Father: “Nothing son, absolutely nothing.” 

Food for ThoughtWhat do boys in South Africa think about being boys today? What do they imagine is expected of them? Whom do they look up to and how are they navigating the transition from being boys to becoming men?

What does it mean to be a man? That a man does not cry? That a man provides and protects?

Maybe these are not the right questions. 

But maybe this story will provide the right answers. 

Andisiwe and Tshepo, a newly married young couple, are planning on having a baby. Tshepo wants a daughter but his aunts are adamant that his firstborn should be a boy, “to carry on the family name” they say. His uncles also insist that his firstborn must be a boy too, “to show that he is a man in the bedroom” they say. 

On the other hand, Andisiwe wants a son for a firstborn and her mother agrees, “to please your husband and stop him from taking a second wife” she says. Her father would rather she has a girl, “girls always remember home and their mothers’ she will look after you, well into your old age” he says.

Ever wondered why those who imagine about having children prefer certain sex over the other? The story of Andisiwe and Tshepo can help us see what it means to be a man, an object and symbol of multiple complex expectations. Does being a man born in a patriarchal society mean the same as in a matriarchal one? 

Andisiwe and Tshepo finally have their baby boy who wailed at birth which made the nurses on duty celebrate. Baby Mandla kept his parents up at night crying in between feeding and nappy changing times, he also laughed a lot each time he was picked up. 

Being held, sung to, kissed on the forehead and talked to made baby Mandla giggle endlessly. The affection Andisiwe and Tshepo gave to baby Mandla made him smile each time he saw his parents. Baby Mandla grew into a strong and healthy boy child who always ran into his mom and daddy’s arms each time they show up home back from work. 

Mandla was raised into a respectful African child with lots of aspirations for when he grows up and finally leave the house for high school. His mother and the housekeeper told him that he had to toughen up for high school and stand up for himself. How does one toughen up for a cruel world? 

Mandla had to learn that one had to control his emotions, if necessary, deny them in order to put up a show of bravery as any sign of weakness is frowned upon. Such lies we put up with. The toxic part about this is that boys are raised to be men who struggle to acknowledge and express their feelings in the name of bravery. 

We fail to see that heroes and saints are people who experience fear, have weaknesses and are also ordinary. The idea of a man being one with everything under control, unlimited strength and all the other stereotypes of being macho are a big ask. If anything they set males up to fail, to fail at being who they truly are as individuals.

Furthermore, according to the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), estimates that 60% of children have absent fathers. The impact of the lack of absent fathers or positive father figures has an impact on the development of the boy child’s perception towards manhood. 

Luckily, Mandla is part of the 33 percent of children who are born and raised in a household by both parents. 

Now, how do we break this down for kids to begin to see toxic masculinity in the area of emotional intelligence? How about a drawing and coloring activity on how your favorite food tastes? Getting kids to begin to think about the qualities they like in something like food and giving them a language to express it, in this case, drawing and coloring. From food then taking it to appreciate people and creating gifts for family members and or friends. 

Toxic masculinity hampers emotional intelligence. It encourages a limited view of what a man is and even has an impact on intimate relationships. The sad part of this is that some females, those who help raise the boy child, take an active role in socializing them into toxic masculinity.

“Children are regarded as a gift, yet at times boy children are considered an investment whether for family name purposes or not.

So, what does it mean to be a man? 

Again, nothing but allowing your boy child to express his individuality for himself. Figuring out the rules of masculinity and trying to live up to them is part of every boy’s childhood. Most boys find the test of masculinity scary and hard to pass. 

Perhaps the test should be that boys should be allowed to be themselves and not constantly measure themselves against the societal standard of masculinity. This is an invitation to shift from living life and raising your boy child based on what people will say, “abantu bazothini?” towards what is best for your boy child.

Image by James Wong

It is important to talk to boys about the reality of gender expectations and help them figure out how to negotiate this problem. If a little boy is struggling to feel adequately masculine by acting tough, it’s not helpful to criticize or mock his interests. So instead of teaching the ills of toxic masculinity, we should instead instill a culture of positive masculinity – that is freeing the burden of societal expectations on the young boy child. 

Remember that each child is unique and requires a tailored approach making it impossible to expect your boy child to go through life with the burden of trying to be a certain man who only exists in societal expectations. 

Part of parenting is being great stewards of who our children are born to be, acknowledging their strengths, weaknesses and potential then guiding them towards who they are wired to be. Early Childhood Development and formal education, in part, help with this yet the validation, approval and shaping the boy children into what being a man start from home. 

So we have decided to create a few tips for challenging gender stereotypes in the home:

  • Ensure that children receive equal praise for the same behavior. For example, praising both boys and girls for being neat or being active in physical activities. 
  • Encourage children to be friends across genders.
  • Use the anatomically correct terms when referring to body parts. 
  • Point out, critique and discuss gendered representations in the media.
  • Avoid gender-specific language and statements such as “that’s a man’s job.’ and ‘that’s not lady-like.”
  • Encourage gender neutral toys and colors.

Back to the story of baby Mandla, it takes a village to raise a child. Until we, as a society, grapple and engage in open dialogue on notions of masculinity we will continue down the toxic avenue. Change begins with you and it is possible to raise children aware of positive masculinity tailored for each child to be themselves.

By Traver Mudzonga

About Traver Mudzonga: 

Traver is a photographer and brand culture design art director founded on creativity, passion and skill for highest possible results.Photography is more than a job for him, it is an expression of life. Having over nine years of technical and management experience as a Production Designer, he now focuses on brand strategy and inspiring brand culture.

Follow him on twitter: (m_traver), instagram (mtraverfolio) and visit his website: 

Consent 4 Kids

Consent 4 Kids

Teaching a kid about consent has nothing to do with teaching them about sex. It’s about respecting boundaries.

We believe parents can start educating children about consent and empowerment as early as 1 year old and continuing into the university years. It is our sincere hope that this post can help us raise empowered young adults who have empathy for others and a clear understanding of healthy consent.

Consent Matters
A group of happy children holding hands

In general terms, consent is a matter of an individual granting someone or something permission for a particular event to take place. It is the achievement of willful acknowledgment, sexual acceptance and eventually permission (expressly stated) by a female/male, to an advance made by a member of the same/opposite sex. 

General explanations such as these unlock doors that open up the opportunity for questions such as how does one relate this concept to children?  Or, how do parents, guardians, teachers etc. teach their children about consent?

As far as that is concerned, teaching consent becomes a rather simple process that requires practice and discipline in other areas of life. 

The act of teaching consent and the conversation around sexual consent starts at the early childhood development stages, by guardians teaching their children to understand their bodies & body language to respect the same & opposite sex but most importantly by teaching them to speak up for what they believe in. 

Some of the steps and many ways in which guardians can teach their children consent include:

1.  Boundaries remain vitally important from childhood. 

What about boundaries is so important you ask? Well, boundaries influence factors such as behavior and understanding. Boundaries are types of limits the facilitate the establishment of qualities such as empathy, support, respect, and discipline, as well as caring for oneself and others. 

If boundaries are crossed, a punishment can be allocated to establish a consequence for negative behavior. This in itself allows children to understand the remaining elements of this discussion concerning the teaching of consent in children.

2.  Respect remains as significant as teaching boundaries. 

Teaching children respect is interchangeably linked to the phenomena of consent in that respect allows for the development of positive relationships and relationship enhancing skills. Through respect, some factors that children are able to develop a more open-minded sense. 

Comic story about respect and boundaries

3. Communication & consequence it is important to communicate intent & permission for touching, kissing, or various sexual behaviors. 

If one does not have consent for a said act, the act could consequently lead to be considered a form of sexual assault. It is also extremely vital that there be a clear and open line of communication between child and guardian. Parents/Guardians must be willing to listen to their children and teach them that their emotions are warranted. 

4.  Reinforcing the use of the word NO and accepting the word

As you can see, there are countless aspects to consider when teaching children about the phenomena of consent. It’s important to remember that, as a parent and/ or guardian, it never too early to teach children about consent. 

By children having a greater awareness of what consent entails, children can then be more thoroughly prepared for developing and promoting healthy functional relationships which encompass facets such as boundaries, respect, listening, and communication.

Teach your kids that “no” and “stop” are important words and should be honored. One way to explain this may be, “Thandi said ‘no’, and when we hear ‘no’ we always stop what we’re doing immediately. No matter what.

Comic story about the use of the word NO

Also, teach your child that his or her “no’s” are to be honored. Explain that just like we always stop doing something when someone says “no”, that our friends need to always stop when we say “no”, too. If a friend doesn’t stop when we say “no,” then we need to think about whether or not we feel good, and safe, playing with them. If not, it’s okay to choose other friends.

If you feel you must intervene, do so. Be kind, and explain to the other child how important “no” is. Your child will internalize how important it is both for himself and others.

Consent is as simple as tea! 

We have provided visual links on teaching consent to children. Feel free to watch it together with your kids! 

Consent for Kids

This video helps kids of all ages understand consent in a fun and friendly manner! 

Consent is as simple as tea

This video  shows how consent as the act of making tea and serves a great way of making children understand what consent is by using a simple act they could relate to which may make the conversation around consent less frightening for both parent/guardian and child! 

About the Authors: 
Born in a small town called Zeerust, 24-year-old Mokgabo Maletswa is a graduate in Bachelor of Commerce in Finance who strives to achieve excellence in each and everything. Her complex combination of resilience, vibrancy, patience, diligence and her nature to help those who are less fortunate has led her to lead organizations like ABASA NWU-VTC. Being a caregiver and leader has come naturally. Her mantra in life is that she necessarily doesn’t what to change the world but spark the brain that will, through thought-provoking conversations and genuineness.

Natacha Martins is a 22-year-old female who is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree and Honours Equivalent in the field of Psychology obtained at the Pearson Institute of Higher Education. Natacha is currently completing a TEFL certificate. Natacha has both experience and interests in the fields of university readiness, children’s education, research, statistics, school counseling, parental guidance counseling, addiction counseling, and alternative therapeutic methods through sport and physical activity. 

The Power of Self Love!

The Power of Self Love!

Meet Thandi. Thandi is a smart, bubbly and kind girl. Little Thandi came back from school one day and was so excited that she had been chosen as the new grade 3R class monitor. Miss Zulu told her peers that “Thandi is a good example, children! You must strive to be like her!” 

It was true! Little Thandi was truly a good example of a well-groomed student. The next day, little Thandi was attending her physical education class and they were busy having fun when a boy from her class yelled “Thandi! How can you be a good example, when you can’t even pass the ball right!” and everyone burst out into bubbles of laughter. Thandi felt so bad and that the following day little Thandi was late for school and Miss Zulu said to Little Thandi: “Thandi! As the class monitor, you should always be on time. You are supposed to be setting a good example!” 

Later that evening before little Thandi went to bed; she thought to herself “But what does it mean to be a good example”. She found the responsibility of being “a good example” a little challenging. As Little Thandi fell asleep, It was in her sleep that Thandi has a strange dream. In this dream; every time she said or felt bad things about herself for not being good at something, a BIG scary horn grew right in the middle of her forehead. She then started to scream for help and ran straight to Miss Zulu’s office. Surprisingly, Miss Zulu chuckled at the sight of this and whispered to her the word “Kindness”. Little Thandi’s dream was disturbed by the loud alarm. That morning, as she arrived at school, Little Thandi looked forward to school and fulfilling her role as a class monitor. She understood that leading by example does not mean being perfect; instead, it means being kind enough to yourself to understand that our imperfections make us human and accepting them makes us even better leaders. 

Comic on self love

Now you’re probably reading this and wondering – how is this relevant for children? 

Believe it or not, it’s possible to teach your children to fight the negativity of the world using nothing but self-love.

Based on Little Thandi’s story, Self-love has less to do with how you look and what you are wearing and more to do with how you regard yourself. It is important to teach children that they are not awesome, cool, beautiful, pretty, etc. because of hairstyles or outfits and other external things that could be taken away in an instance BUT that they are amazing because of who they are at the core of their being, and I want them to know that and appreciate that.

Good self-esteem is essential to a child’s development. It is the foundation of everything they do, everything they are – it is the foundation of their future. 

So here are some tips to instill children with self-love tools: 

  • Teach them about joy: Happiness can be taken away… it’s external. But joy, that’s something that they should have on the inside. And when they leave the house and encounter all of those things in the world that are designed to tear them apart, they’ll still have their given joy.
  • Love your body for all that it can do! Your body is amazing. It has so many great skills and talents it does every day. It helps you to laugh, breathe, think and play. 
  • Look after yourself. Looking after your body is important. We only get one! Eating healthy and exercising will help you to feel good and keep your body strong. 
  • Focus on the good things. Write a list of all the things that you and others like about yourself. Read this list often. Add to it when you find more things you like about yourself! 
  • Change the way you think about yourself. Catch those thoughts that are telling you negative things about yourself. Replace them with some positive ones. Everybody has things they can like about themselves. 
Self love exercise

Having high self-esteem isn’t about telling everyone how wonderful you are. It’s more about trying your best, realizing that you won’t always succeed but always being willing to have a go. You can feel good that you are a positive person and others will respect and want to be around you. 

It’s okay to look and be different. It’s what makes us special!


[RECOMMENDED READING]: We have compiled a list of 10 books that teach kids the importance of Self-Love: 

  1. “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes 
  2. “Mpumi’s Magic Beads” by Lebohang Masango & Masego Morulane
  3. “The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss 
  4. “You Are Special” by Max Lucado 
  5. “Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun” by Maria Dismondy 
  6. “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont
  7. “Unstoppable Me” by Wayne W. Dyer
  8. “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier
  9. “Deenie” by Judy Blume
  10. “The Skin I’m In” by Sharon Flake
  11. “The List” by Siobhan Vivian


About the Author: 

Nosipho Nxumalo is a University of Witwatersrand LLB Student. She is currently a Junior Business Management Consultant and she is a proud feminist and advocates for women empowerment.

Follow her on Instagram: @noss_nx & Facebook: Nxumalo Nosipho Nxumalo