Women have been making history for centuries; for some, this was the only choice they had. For women with disabilities in particular, it was either live the way others expected them to or fight for the lives they knew they (and all people with disabilities) deserved.
Anyone with a disability can tell you they’ve faced discrimination at least once in their lives. Whether it’s trying to figure out how to get into a building without adequate mobility accommodations or getting ignored on Tinder after someone finds out about your disability, there are countless systemic ways that work to make things difficult for people with disabilities and deny them the opportunities to share their talents and insights with the world. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we took a look at the lives and work of a number of disabled women who left a mark on our culture as a reminder of the thanks we owe to people of all disabilities and backgrounds.
The women featured here — Jillian Mercado, Stella Young, Claudia Gordon, Judy Heumann and Dr. Maya Angelou — are all examples of women who have made major contributions to everything from politics to literature to activism and made the world a better place for everyone.
A version of this story was published in March 2016.