Mark your calendars! March 8th is International Women’s Day: a time to celebrate the courageous trailblazers who fought, persisted and overcame.
This year, we’re showcasing three famous women with disabilities who have contributed to the women’s movement, shattering barriers and paving the way for future generations.
Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
Frida Kahlo, a Mexican portrait artist and feminist icon, is widely regarded as one of the most influential painters of the 20th century. As a child, she suffered from polio, and at 18, she was in a bus accident, which left her with chronic pain and mobility issues for the remainder of her life.
Despite these hurdles, Kahlo didn’t just persevere but thrived, and did so in a period when men dominated the art world. Her artwork, specifically her self-portraits, spotlighted her condition and infused aspects of Mexican culture, highlighting:
- Regional animals
- Historical events
- Traditional clothing and jewelry
Both her surrealist style and personal writings were a constant reflection of her lived experience of being a Mexican woman with disabilities.
Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994)
Wilma Rudolph was born June 23, 1940, in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee. As a child, she contracted polio, which partially paralyzed her left leg. Doctors told her she would never walk again. Her mother told her she would. Well, Wilma didn’t walk. She sprinted.
Wilma went on to become one of the greatest American track and field stars of all time. At the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at the same Olympic games. Her brilliant performance earned her the title of “The tornado, the fastest woman alive.”
After retiring from the sport, Wilma went on to become a teacher, coach, advocate for women in sports and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee.
Tammy Duckworth (1968–Present)
Tammy Duckworth is an American politician from Illinois, who has been serving as a junior U.S. senator since 2017. A retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel, Senator Duckworth lost both her legs as well as the partial use of her right arm when an RPG shot down the Blackhawk she was piloting during the Iraq War.
These devastating injuries didn’t stop her from continuing to sacrifice for her country. In 2016, she became the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress and the first woman with a disability to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Senator Duckworth shattered glass ceilings. She showed young women with disabilities that they too can pursue a political career and make an impact.
Profiles in Courage
At Quantum, we’re honored to profile a few of the women who have made their mark on the modern world, and, despite their disabilities, reshaped society.
As a company, our mission is to open doors that were once shut. And, with our technology, we seek to uplift women with disabilities, helping them meet their clinical and quality-of-life needs.
 Fridakahlo.org. Frida Kahlo and Her Paintings. https://www.fridakahlo.org/
 Women’s History Museum. Wilma Rudolph. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/wilma-rudolph
 Chicago Magazine. The Day Tammy Duckworth’s Black Hawk Went Down. https://www.chicagomag.com/chicago-magazine/april-2021/the-day-tammy-duckworths-black-hawk-went-down/