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Wheelchair-Bound Women Compete In Russian Beauty Pageant

posted 30 May 2013, 05:46 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 May 2013, 05:46 ]

"Miss Independence" beauty pageant held in Moscow for wheelchair-bound contestants.

 MOSCOWRUSSIA (MAY 22, 2013) (REUTERS) - A group of wheelchair-bound women in Moscow hoping to change perceptions about people with disabilities recently competed in the "Miss Independence" contest - a beauty pageant for women with disabilities.

The contest, held for the third time in Russia, was thought up by the Society for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families.

It's purpose, as explained by one of the event's volunteers, is to work on changing Russians' attitude towards women with disabilities.

"First of all, we are trying to change society's attitudes towards handicapped people - they think that handicapped people deserve to be pitied - well, maybe deserve is not the exact word - (they think that) that's their destiny. We are showing that this is far from the way it is, and that the girls study, and participate in sports, and are beautiful, and achieve a lot in life, and can be successful just like anyone else," Olga Persyanova, a volunteer at the "Miss Independence" pageant told Reuters.

"The contest is called 'Miss Independence', and I guess we want to show society that girls in wheelchairs can be really wonderful and beautiful, open," the project director Maria said.

The competition, held at a Moscow hotel, featured a talent competition in which its wheelchair-bound participants sang, danced, and even gave a fencing demonstration.

At the end of the performances several finalists were awarded with tiaras, ribbons, and bouquets of flowers.

The contest was dedicated to supporting Russia's national team at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

Russia's estimated 13 million people with disabilities struggle with prejudice and lack of amenities, with some of them even unable to leave their homes for lack of basic facilities such as ramps or lifts in residential buildings.