Saliha Rehanaz Bangladesh, 16
project: Shresto Menstrual Pads
basic human NEEDS: Environment, Health, Safety
Theme Song: “Summer” by Calvin Harris
Walking through her village in Bangladesh, Saliha saw people throwing away their used menstrual pads in dumpsters. In an area that is home to some of the world’s largest landfills, these pads add to endless trash, pollute the environment with plastics and harmful chemicals and are a breeding ground for disease to grow and spread. After conducting extensive research Saliha created Shresto Pads, which are biodegradable, chemical-free menstrual pads made entirely from plant material. Her community is one of many in the world where menstruation is a social taboo and societal issues linked to the topic aren’t addressed.
Saliha hopes her work will start the conversation on how sanitary napkins take 500 years to degrade, causing huge environmental and health consequences, and how many females who can’t afford pads are forced to miss school and use old rags during their cycles. Shresto Pads will allow women and girls in rural areas to have access to pads, feel comfortable during menstruation and avoid disease. Since Shresto Pads are made of natural and accessible material, Saliha intends to help individuals in these rural areas set up businesses to manufacture the pads and support themselves. Selected as a finalist for the Google Science Fair 2016, Saliha is continuing to advance the model.