In India, 2.21 of the total population suffer from disability, of which 56% are males and 44% are females (as per the updated 2016 census). While the percentage may appear small, in numbers the estimate comes at around 21 million individuals.
Disability, they say, is in the mind and not the body. We have shining examples of women who were undeterred by the absence of a body part or the presence of a disease. These women not only achieved their goals, they also became an inspiration for everyone to follow.
1. Sangita Desai: When she started her career in fashion designing, she was among a handful of Indians with a degree in fashion from an international institute. Her collection sold out at the most premier fashion stores in many cities. Sangita went on to design costumes for advertising campaigns of Aishwariya Rai, and other Miss India contestants.
She was born with Symbrachydactyly – a congenital abnormality because of which Sangita had only functional hand as fingers of the other were missing since birth.
This was not the only setback the fearless fashion designer overcame. In 2006, the devastating Mumbai floods washed away her entire studio and all her collections.
Not the one to give up, Sangita went on to become the first Indian entrepreneur to start a line of grooming essentials for men – the Raw Nature Company.
2. Shenaz Haveliwala: An educator, a commercial artist, an entrepreneur and founder of health food company ‘Le Garden’– Shenaz Haveliwala is a woman with several accolades to her name.
It has been 12 years since she was diagnosed with epilepsy – a chronic neurological disorder, wherein a person experiences seizures and abnormal sensations. Shenaz was pursuing bachelors in mechanical engineering then.
At that time she had restricted herself from stepping out into the world out of the fear of getting a seizure. But today, she stands tall amidst the platter of her various accomplishments.
3. Nidhi Goyal: “Yeah, I am blind but so is love,” Nidhi says with a sass when she walks on the stage. India’s first disabled woman comedian, Nidhi Goyal uses humour to challenge notions around disability gender and sexuality.
At the age of 14, she was diagnosed with an incurable, irreversible eye disorder (retinitis pigmentosa) that eventually took her sight away.
At 32 today, Nidhi is not only a successful comedian but also a disability rights and gender justice activist, her gamut of work including writing, advocacy, training and art.