Women have been the drivers of our readymade garments industries. However, their health issues are overlooked by the sector and they frequently suffer from menstrual hygiene management problems. Researchers found that every year the apparel sector is losing around 215 million workdays because of women workers absent from work due to this negligence.
Md Mamunur Rahman, a member of the British Council’s Bangladesh-UK Alumni Network (BUKAN) family, identified the health hazards these women workers are exposed to everyday, significantly the dangers posed on their menstrual health. As an MA student Gender and Development from Institute of Development Studies from the University of Sussex, he learnt to push himself beyond his capabilities, to focus less on personal gains instead of work for the betterment of the society. After completing his studies, from the UK, he came back to Bangladesh and pursued his professional career. He came up with the solution of a low-cost sanitary napkin, Ella Pad, for women by reusing the garments scrap. In recognition of his Ellainitiative and his contribution towards the society, he was named as one of the regional finalists for the Study UK Alumni awards 2018.
At the launch of Ella Alliance, Mamunur Rahman highlighted how underprivileged women in Bangladesh are considering sanitary napkins as luxury items, where he pointed that considering the economic standings of these women, the sanitary napkins are quite high priced a thus abstaining these women from using it. He emphasised how his UK education instigated him to work to resolve this issue and therefore start the journey of Ella. Ella pad is produced from textile scraps which makes it is very cheap compared to any other pads.The programme further discussed, how Ella pad is different from other sanitary napkins. The harsh fact is that about four million women workers in 5000 readymade garment factories are suffering from menstrual hygiene management problems as they do not have access to sanitary napkins. Additional to losing 215 working hours annually for this reason alone, these factories in Bangladesh are dumping around one million bales of textile scraps every year which contributes to a significant, substantial waste management problem.To bring about a change, to improve the situation for women, Ella came up with the low-cost sanitary napkin which is being produced from garments scraps. This can contribute to a considerable reduction in the solid waste burden and ensure a safer work environment for four million female workers and thus strengthen our economy.
Using the garments scraps also contributes to shaping a better environment. The discarded scraps from textile garments block the drains and waterways causing water clogging and floods during the rainy season. These wastes also piled high on roadsides. They are used in landfilling and brickfields to be burned, causing incineration, polluting and creating millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases responsible for global warming as well as environmental hazards in cities. Reusing these scraps can help to cut down the emission of toxic carbon dioxide gas. If these scraps are appropriately utilised to produce such pads, we save up to 3,000 litres of water.