Today marks the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day is geared towards helping us to understand the challenges people with disabilities face and to support their dignity, rights and well-being in our communities, workplaces, institutions of learning, etc. This year’s theme is: “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
To celebrate the day, I wanted to share the lives of two remarkable women, both from the same country. One is Madhu Bagri, India’s first woman para-athlete to represent the country in an international tournament for wheelchair tennis and the first woman from the country to achieve an ITF wheelchair tennis world ranking. The other is Dr. Rajalakshmi S J a dentist who won the Miss Wheelchair 2014 contest held in Mumbai.
Madhu Bagri was the first child in the family who suffered from a disability so it was very challenging for her family. They not only had to come to terms with it but they also had to cope with society’s attitude towards their disabled daughter. Imagine how hard it must have been for Madhu to deal with a sibling who loathed her because she was different. It wasn’t her fault that she was infected with infantile polio when she was 18 months. Things got worse for her when she was 11 and had to underwent a spinal surgery which had her confined to bed for three years. During that time, she had to quit school. Read more about her here.
Watch Dr. Rajalakshmi S J as she shared her story and encouraged people to “quit surviving and to start living”.
Today, I celebrate these two remarkable young women who beat the odds and overcame the obstacles to achieve their dreams and to pave the way for others. Join me in celebrating those who are disabled but not defeated.