Her Abilities is a fantastic way to highlight the incredible work of women with disabilities all over the world, to give them a platform to share their achievements and for those to be recognised in a celebratory way. Paralympic Champion Swimmer, Susannah Rodgers is part of the judging panel for the this year’s awards. Susannah recently spoke to Able Magazine about what it means to her to be a part of Her Abilities for 2019.

What does it mean to you to be part of Her Abilities jury?

It is fantastic to be invited to join the Her Abilities Jury panel for this year. It was great to meet Yeti in person this year for the first time and to support her initiative.

How do you feel Her Abilities will help raise awareness for women with disabilities?

Being such a marginalised group, to highlight women with disabilities who are doing incredible things is hugely important and to give them a platform and awareness.

Do you feel the awards allow you to give back to the disability community by celebrating a variety of women?

Absolutely. I hope to meet these women, get to know them, learn from them and maybe even collaborate with them. It is an opportunity for me to see the growth and development of awareness around disability, which I feel is rapidly on the rise.

As a Paralympic sports champion, do you feel women are fairly represented in the world of disability sport? Will Her Abilities help to raise the profile of sporting achievements amongst women?

Fairly represented amongst Paralympic competitors I would say yes, but representation globally of the Paralympics still needs work before it gets the same recognition as the Olympics. Athletes don’t get a lot of media time, but things are changing and shifting. I noticed a big difference around London 2012 and certainly in the UK, every four years, there is a fair amount of representation, but it needs to be more than just one every four years for both the Winter and Summer Paralympics.

I understand you are currently a non-executive director on several boards, for the London Olympics legacy charity and Raleigh International. Do you feel your sporting experience has helped you to shape the future for generations of women within the world of sport?

I certainly love working on legacy. I do believe in the importance of big events, competitions and volunteering to bring people together. I believe in the importance of awareness raising and work on that in a variety of roles currently. Hopefully through legacy, people can be inspired to take up something new or even just to connect with others and to step out of their comfort zone a little.

What was it like to be awarded your MBE in 2017 by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales ?

It was a magical day and wonderful to have the people closest to me there to celebrate with me.

What have been some of the main highlights within your sporting career to date?

Winning Gold in Rio of course, but two other moments stand out to me. One was winning Gold with the relay team in the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. I had a shoulder injury and I was poorly, but it was mind over matter to hang on to win in the last leg of the relay. I put everything into that swim, not for me, but for the girls in the team. Another was winning Bronze in Rio in the 400m freestyle event, two days after winning Gold. To reset my head and be able to deliver a medal in such a tough event immediately after a life-changing moment was hard but so rewarding!

Nominations are open till 21st June 2019. You can nominate here: https://www.her-abilities-award.org/submit-nomination

About Susannah Rodgers

Susie Rodgers MBE is a Paralympic champion swimmer who has won a total of 30 international medals throughout her career, including Gold in the 50m Butterfly at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She also won two bronze medals in Rio and is a triple bronze medallist from the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Susie with a First-Class honours degree in Modern Languages from Newcastle University and has worked for nine years as a project manager across different global education programmes at the British Council.

She is a Non-Executive Director on several boards, currently for the London 2012 Olympics legacy charity Spirit of 2012 and Raleigh International, as well as previously serving on the board of the British Athletes Commission (the UK’s elite athlete welfare organisation), where she was the Chair of the Athlete Advisory Group. She also manages her own business – speaking, consulting and advising on various global panels including at the British Council, E&Y, for the British Government and others.

Susie is an Ambassador for charities including the Marine Conservation Society and for commercial brands.

She works externally on diversity and inclusion initiatives, speaking on panels in the UK and abroad and is passionate about empowerment for all, especially for women and people with disabilities. Susie was awarded an MBE in 2017 by her Majesty for services to swimming in the Queen’s New Years’ Honours list and is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum.

About Her Abilities Award

Her Abilities is the first global award honouring women with disabilities who achieved greatness in their life or field of work. It was launched in 2018 by Light for the World along with Right Livelihood Award winner Yetnebersh Nigussie.

“…There are so many inspiring and strong women with disabilities out there who achieve greatness every day. Her Abilities will shine a spotlight on their extraordinary achievements and, in turn – I hope, inspire a brand new generation of women with disabilities.” (Yetnebersh Nigussie)

An independent award jury has decided on the winners in three categories:

  1. Art, Culture and Sports: Musola Catherine Kaseketi, filmmaker from Zambia
  2. Health & Education: Toyin Janet Aderemi, a pharmacist from Nigeria
  3. Rights: Ashrafun Nahar, disability rights activist from Bangladesh

In the first year we have:

  • Received 158 nominations from all continents and 52 countries,
  • Got overwhelmingly positive feedback – from nominees, journalists, our social media followers and our partners,
  • Secured two media co-operations and
  • Got a lot of inspiration through the award!

Nominations are open till 21st June 2019

[…] as a woman with a disability, I just do what we need to do so we are not left behind in life, and I believe we die when we stay silent about the issues that affect us that’s why I raise awareness and advocate in the way that I do. […] (Nominee in the category “Rights”)