A menstrual cup made in South Africa by a struggling socialist stuck in a capitalist society.
Own your period. That is the motto that Zema Sokhanyile wants to spread with her menstrual cup brand. As society moves into more environmentally-friendly ways of life, menstruation should not be left behind, and this is why Sokhanyile created the Mie Cup — a 100% medical-grade silicone menstrual cup. The reusable alternative menstrual product is free of the industrial plastic chemical bisphenol and latex.
Sokhanyile is also an assistant marine engineer in the South African Navy, but it was her commitment and love to black feminist principles that led her to create Mie Cup.
“I’m an intersectional feminist who believes in social justice, and I’m struggling socialist stuck in a capitalist society. In an alternative universe, I’d be a nomad who follows the summer,” she says.
Founding the online menstrual cup startup is one of the highlights of her life.
Sokhanyile grew up in a village called Brooks Nek in the Eastern Cape, in a house full of cousins as well as her three brothers. It was her mother and grandmother who instilled in her a strong sense of independence, choice and freedom to express herself.
“They never assigned gender roles, and we all grew up knowing the world belongs to women too. These two women gave me what in hindsight one would call feminist education … and it can be translated through the values instilled in us,” she explains. “They never cared whether or not I wanted to get married, have children or the type of career I chose. It was always a choice, and they were supportive at all times.”
In addition to her mother and grandmother, Rihanna and black feminists inspire her to be a better person.
“My desire is to see all black women free in this world, taking up spacing and owning it.”
Although she has achieved what many can only dream of, Sokhanyile’s journey wasn’t easy. She failed Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand, but later completed Mechanical Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
“The biggest challenge I face with the Mie Cup is beliefs. Many women and young girls who menstruate lack understanding of their genital anatomy and cultural taboos. This is largely due to miseducation by the patriarchal society we live in, and therefore many aren’t willing to try tampons, let alone menstrual cups.”
Sokhanyile and her business partner take their time to educate their customers and anyone else who has questions about menstrual cups and menstruation in the hope that this information demystifies menstrual health.