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How Dorena Pads contributed to erase the menstruation taboo in Cameroon

Washable and eco-friendly sanitary pads to respond to menstrual precariousness in Cameroon.

Doreen comes from Cameroon and never had the opportunity to hear from her mother what it means to menstruate. Today, she sees so many girls who are in her position. This lack of knowledge and this taboo regularly leads to health problems, insufficient access to hygiene and to the lack of menstrual products. She wanted to change this by creating the Dorena Pads Initiative within the Cho Ngafor Foundation. Since she has been living in Switzerland for many years, she wanted to create a project that would allow both an international collaboration by helping women in Cameroon, but also to talk about these issues here in Switzerland where menstruation is no less taboo.

Through her participation in the BØWIE Incubator, she was able to create a network of volunteers in Switzerland that sews reusable and eco-friendly sanitary pads,which are then sent to Cameroon. Through the incubator events and the coaching sessions, she and her team improved their skills in strategic thinking, outreach, communication and fundraising. Thanks to these skills, they were able to raise CHF3’000 from the Swiss Embassy of Cameroon which is equal to ~1’800’000 in the country’s local currency Francs CFA, and built a sewing center where women and young people follow vocational training, developing their sewing skills. This training started in March 2021 at the sewing center in Bamenda. With these new skills, it is Dorena Pads’ hope that these women and young people are on the path to making a living for their future. For Doreen, the BØWIE Incubator allowed her to reach her goals: Empower communities through education, support girls and women to manage menstruation with dignity and create sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Doreen said to her BØWIE coach: “The incubation programme was the best experience I had in 2020. I don’t think that Dorena Pads would have achieved so much in such a short period of time without BØWIE”. Her project won the Empowering BØWIE Award 2020 and was able to distribute over 10’000 reusable and eco-friendly menstrual pads to help menstruators who struggle in Cameroon and in Switzerland. The Dorena Pads Initiative has been adapted by supporters from other countries who were trained by Doreen to carry out these activities to other countries (Uganda, India, Afghanistan and Somalia). Her project even inspired another project working on the topic of menstruation to apply to the 2021 BØWIE cohort! Let's lead the way!


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