Thursday, September 8, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Saliha Rehanaz

This is the third in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first, second and third posts.) Each has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016.

Fifteen year old Saliha Rehanaz has set herself an ambitious goal of creating a "revolutionary, natural absorbent that would change the world." And you know what? She just might have!

This rising young star has set her sights on improving the lives of the rural women of Bangladesh where she lives with her older sister and mother. Until recently, women and girls (and others who menstruate) in the poorer rural areas still used rags for their periods, but that caused problems with comfort and wear-ability throughout the day, keeping many girls home from school because of the social stigma associated with menstruation.

As pads have become somewhat more accessible, many families are taking on the cost as a means to keep their girls in school, even though they are still quite expensive and are difficult to dispose of. Since most rural communities don't have waste facilities, most people either bury the pads in their yards creating a bio-hazard, or burn them creating more pollution.

Saliha's idea was to create a pad that would last six hours, provide comfort and quality, but degrade within a short period of time, and she was successful. She was named as a Google Science Fair Global Finalist for her project "Eco-friendly and Bio-degradable Sreshto Menstrual Pads."

She looked at using easily-sourced natural products for the pads so they would be inexpensive and easy to make at home in cottage-based businesses, giving poor women another source of income.
Bangladesh is the second largest producer of jute, and it is abundant with coconuts as it is a tropical country. Jute also does not require pesticides and fertilizers to thrive. Using jute and the mesa carp of coconuts (also commonly known as coconut husk), a type of pad can be created that would degrade in 1-2 years. The pad would be made from cotton fabric, an alternative to the plastic covering. These pads can be easily made at home, and provide a cheap alternative for women in rural areas, and for every other women who would like to see a better tomorrow. 
Sreshto means "best" in Bengali, and is an indication of how important this pad will be to the women and girls of Bangladesh, and possibly others around the world.

If you appreciate the work I do here on SRPS, please support me!


Post a Comment