Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, completes its look at disabled people who have hit the headlines and provided an inspiration to others. This time, in Part 2, it is the turn of women to be featured. Most lists such as the one on disabledhistory.org combine both men and women so it is interesting to make gender-specific lists, especially as women are not equally represented in most sources. Take this list on Techtainment: only one out of the ten people featured is a woman.
Campaigner: Baroness Chapman was a staunch campaigner for the rights of disabled people. She became the first person with a congenital disability to be appointed to the House of Lords under the People’s Peers initiative when she took up her seat in October 2004. When she was born with brittle bone disease doctors thought that her life would not be worth living. Although she died in 2009 she is a shining example of what can be achieved.
Athlete: Hannah Cockroft triumphed for Team GB in the 2012 Paralympics when she destroyed her rivals in the 200m T34 wheelchair sprint. Living up to her nickname ‘Hurricane’ she set a new Paralymic record of 31.90 seconds when she won her second gold in the 100m race. She can be seen here being interviewed by school children about her success.
Artist: The work of blind artist Lisa Fittipaldi is truely amazing. She was declared legally blind in 1993 and since then her vision dropped and she could not see colour, distance or print. She started painting two years after she lost her sight, but her disability has not stopped her producing astounding pictures, you can see examples of her work and that of other disabled artists on webdesignerdepot.com.
Actor: Liz Carr is a writer, comedian, presenter and disability rights activist. She has recently featured in the BBC’s Silent Witness as a forensic lab scientist and is a regular on the comedy circuit. Confined to a wheelchair, since she was diagnosed with a “very rare, obscure” illness at age 11, she has battled with negative attitudes about disability.
Musician: Karen Carpenter had a beautiful voice that charmed millions in the 1970s but she struggled with her mental health and suffered with chronic eating disorders, dying tragically young at 32. Her hits included ‘Close to You’ and ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’. Her story serves to illustrate the dangers of anorexia nervosa and how hard it is to overcome.
And there are more: There are many other women out there who face the double edged-sword of being female and being disabled, but there are cracks appearing in the “disability glass ceiling” and the success of the 2012 Paralymics has opened the cracks a little wider.