Announcing the 2017 Mary Fran Myers Gender & Disaster Award Recipients

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2017 Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award, Dr. Debra Parkinson, the late Ms. Claire Zara, and their colleagues at Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), Women’s Health in the North (WHIN), and collaborative efforts with researchers based at the Accident Research Center, Monash University’s Disaster Resilience Institute (MUDRI), Emergency Management Victoria, and Health Protection Office in Victoria, Australia. The Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award recognizes disaster professionals who continue Mary Fran Myers’ goal of promoting research on gender issues in disasters and emergency management. As co-director of the Natural Hazards Center, Myers recognized that disaster vulnerability is influenced by social, cultural, and economic structures that marginalize women and girls. The Natural Hazards Center and the Gender and Disaster Network established the award in 2002 to honor women and men whose advocacy, research, or management efforts have had a lasting, positive impact on reducing disaster vulnerability.


Dr. Debra Parkinson is a long-time researcher and advocacy campaigner with WHGNE/WHIN, and Adjunct Research Fellow with MUDRI. Over the past two decades, Debra’s novel research on gender inequality and gender based violence has led to transformative change in policy and practice. From 2009-2014, her research with Claire Zara focused on environmental justice and the gendered impacts of disasters. Her standout research following the 2009 Black Saturday fires garnered national attention and catalyzed the first workshop on domestic violence and disasters in 2012. This was then followed by research focused on men’s experience with disaster.


The late Ms. Claire Zara was a researcher, journalist and published author, holding degrees in the arts, education, and children’s literature. Claire’s insightful research and compassionate spirit contributed new insights into gendered experiences in the wake of the 2009 Black Saturday fires, and her work was pivotal in a 2013 VicHealth award for ‘Family violence after a natural disaster: breaking new ground’. Among many other publications and accomplishments, Claire engaged internationally with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s publication, Women’s Leadership in Risk Resilient Development: Good Practices and Lessons Learned presented at a conference in Japan. Up until her death in 2015, Claire remained steadfast in her commitment to advancing gender equity in disaster risk reduction. As a testament to her contribution, the 15th Annual Emergency Management Conference hosted the Inaugural Claire Zara Memorial Oration.


Debra, Claire, and their colleague’s efforts have led to the Gender and Disaster taskforce, which galvanized partnerships between government, university, and NGOs.  In 2015/16, national Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines were developed with federal funding and engaging 350 stakeholders. The award recipients note the invaluable role of the local community in making this work successful!


Please join us in thanking this team for their hard work, serving as an inspiration to all of us. To learn more about the Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disasters Award, including more on this year’s award recipients and past winners visits the Natural Hazards Center Website,” with a link to this page:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s