Nine Famous Women with Disabilities for March 8

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Organization Providing Support to Women with Disabilities …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA, in cooperation with the Provincial Protector of Citizens – Ombudsman of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, organizes an 8 March promo campaign in five Novi Sad elementary schools (Jovan Popović, Prva vojvođanska brigada, Ivo Lola Ribar, Jožef Atila and Dušan Radović) and another five high schools (Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Isidora Sekulić and Laza Kostić Gymasium, 7 April Medical School and Svetozar Miletić High School).

The aim of the action is to make women with disabilities and their achievements more visible among young women and men in Novi Sad.

Each school will hang a poster with a photo and a short biography of nine women with disabilities on its notice board, while students will get leaflets with the same contents. The posters and leaflets will contain photos and short biographies of Sarah Bernhardt (1844), Helen Keller (1880), Frida Kahlo (1907), Judith Scott (1943), Gordana Rajkov (1944), Barbara Wachsman Fiducia (1955), Marlee Matlin (1965), Borislava Perić Ranković (1972) and Aimee Mullins (1976).

Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923)

It is in spending oneself that one becomes rich.

A knee injury ending in amputation did not prevent her from acting by using a chair for persons with disabilities until the end of her life. The most famous actress of her time and beyond, she was also a painter, sculptor and writer, a capable business woman managing her own theatres and producing plays in which she used to perform. Extravagant and scandalous, she was impermissibly convincing in male roles. Sarah, a synonym for glamour and drama, the mother of all divas.

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

She lost her sight, hearing and speech in early childhood due to meningitis. She developed her own system of sign language for communication and fought for her own comprehensive education. She mastered several languages and became a prominent writer. She used to socialize with influential and famous people, was a great sailboat captain and cyclist, advocated for peace and social justice. Helen is a symbol of triumph over darkness, silence and isolation.

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954)

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?

She made it through infantile paralysis and a terrible traffic accident that broke her spine in several places and crushed her right leg to pieces. The way she recovered and started walking both times after her ordeal was nothing short of miraculous. The life she continued thereafter was that of pain, passion, authentic beauty and creation. She started painting during the time she spent in bed recovering, using a mirror and herself as a model. Her self-portraits are authentic and recognized all over the world today. Frida, a dove in a steel armor, the one creating on and from shards, a symbol of turbulent and unconditional love.

Judith Scott (1943 – 2005)

Born with Down syndrome and totally devoid of hearing, after thirty-five years in an institution and with the support of her sister who had never left her, she appeared in public with a series of sculptures that had ever since fascinated and puzzled art critics and collectors worldwide. Her sculptures made of thread and rope intertwined into shapes resembling totems, shells or coconuts, with their interior remaining an everlasting, unfathomable enigma. Judith, amazing visual art created from nothing(ness).

Gordana Rajkov (1944)

It is important that people understand organizations of people with disabilities.

A wheelchair user due to muscular dystrophy, she is a world-renowned activist and leader of the movement for independent life of persons with disabilities. She is the first person with disability elected an MP of the Serbian Parliament. US Embassy in Serbia nominated her for the 2011 Women of Courage Award of the American Congress. Gordana, a principle of independence and responsibility for one’s own choices.

Barbara Wachsman Fiducia (1955 – 2001)

We wish that children with disabilities feel welcome in(to) this world.

She had spinal muscular dystrophy, which required her to use a wheelchair in which she, according to her friends’ accounts, rode as if she were the Queen herself on a magnificent horse. Unique in her appearance and sometimes provocative, she was a feminist disability studies pioneer. She advocated for sexual and reproductive rights, violence prevention and architectural accessibility, demonstrating it all by living a dignified life. Barbara, a vision of a powerful and sensual woman with a disability.

Marlee Matlin (1965)

Silence is the last thing the world will ever hear from me.

She lost her hearing before she even started talking. Acting was her primary occupation during her entire childhood, her first role being that of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She is the only actress with hearing impairment ever to have won an Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the youngest woman ever in the history of the Award. Besides a successful acting career, she is an accomplished writer. A prominent member of the US National Association of the Deaf  (NAD), she is active in several charitable organizations. Marlee, advantage(ous) in diversity.

Borislava Perić Ranković (1972)

I keep doing things in spite of myself, pushing on and on.

She started using a wheelchair after a work-related injury. After taking up table tennis recreationally, she won several tournaments at first, becoming a European and world champion later on and earning a title of the Best Athlete of City of Novi Sad. She is a two-time Paralympics silver medal winner (in Beijing and London), exercising, travelling and doing photography. Borislava, a living sports legend.

Aimee Mullins (1976)

They amputated my legs when I was a year old and I’ve been running like crazy ever since!

Born without either of her calf bones, the doctors never expected her to start walking. Contrary to all expectation, she became world famous as an athlete holding a world record in 100 and 200 m race, as well as long jump. Besides sports, she has a successful acting and fashion career. One of the L’Oréal ambassadors, she has been listed among the fifty most beautiful people in the world. Her appearance, innovative thinking and motivational speeches inspire millions all over the world. Aimee, a beauty with twelve pairs of legs.

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