Leena Begum works as a health, safety and wellbeing coordinator on the construction site of the Thames Tideway project. If you’re not completely up to date with London’s new underground conduits for drainage water and waste, the Tideway is a 16 mile sewer tunnel from Acton, west London, to Newham, east London set to be completed in 2023. The tunnel should tackle the problem of sewage overflow into the Thames.
Sorry about spending so many lines on the details of the project – we just thought it was important. Anyways, Leena is Muslim and she wears a hijab. Due to the nature of her job, she’s required to don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like a helmet and hi-viz clothing.
As a hijabi, she found it difficult to wear the appropriate gear at the workplace. So she designed her own. With the support of her colleagues, she created a few mock-ups for hijab and burka friendly PPE clothing. These were whizzed off to a manufacturer who created the groundbreaking prototype Leena’s rocking in the pics.
Her team on the Tideway construction site are pretty sure this is the first PPE modestwear to ever exist and, to be honest, we’ve got no plans to challenge them on that one. Whatever the case, Leena’s designs will hopefully help her industry become a more accessible environment.
Leena had this to say about her revolutionary designs: ‘As a Muslim woman working in construction, I have experienced how difficult it can be to adhere to my religious values while also complying with health and safety requirements on a construction site.’
Leena even went on to hype up her colleagues, before commenting on the wider implications of her creation: ‘I had a lot of support and encouragement from colleagues and it’s been so great to see the designs come to life. I hope this helps promote the image of construction as an inclusive, diverse industry to work in.’
This message was reiterated by her boss, Neil Hancox, director of health, safety and wellbeing at Thames Tideway: ‘Leena has led the drive to develop something that could be a fantastic legacy. A group of people may have been excluded from our industry down to a simple naivety and non-understanding of clothing needs.’
If you’d asked us at the start of the year if we would ever write the sentence ‘we’re big fans of this hijab and burka friendly PPE clothing’, we’d have said, ‘probably not’. But here we are. We’re big fans of this hijab and burka friendly PPE clothing
Leena’s designs prove that your faith should never have to be an obstacle to your chosen career, whether you work in an office, a garage or even a sewer.