2017 Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award Winner Announced

The Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award selection committee has announced Debra Parkinson, the late Claire Zara, and their colleagues to be the 2017 winner of the award. The award recognizes disaster professionals who continue Mary Fran Myers’ goal of promoting research on gender issues in disasters and emergency management.

For more than two decades, Debra Parkinson’s has conducted novel research on gender inequality and gender-based violence that led to transformative change in policy and practice. Her research with Claire Zara focused on environmental justice and the gendered impacts of disaster. Her standout work following the 2009 Black Saturday fires garnered national attention and spurred the first workshop on domestic violence and disasters in 2012, followed by research focused on men’s experience with disaster. Parkinson is a long-time researcher and advocacy campaigner with Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) and Women’s Health in the North (WHIN), and an adjunct research fellow with the Monash University Disaster Resilience Institute.

Zara was a researcher, journalist, and author who held degrees in the arts, education, and children’s literature. Zara’s research and compassionate spirit contributed new insights into gendered experiences in the wake of the Black Saturday fires and her work was pivotal in “Family Violence after a Natural Disaster: Breaking New Ground.” Among many other publications and accomplishments, Claire engaged internationally with Women’s Leadership in Risk Resilient Development: Good Practices and Lessons Learned. 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 Victoria Emergency Management Conference established the Inaugural Claire Zara Memorial Oration in 2015.

Parkinson and Zara collaborated with WHGNE, WHIN, Monash University, the Accident Research Center, Victoria Emergency Management, and the Victoria Health Protection Office. They and their colleague’s efforts have led to the Gender and Disaster taskforce, which galvanized partnerships between government, universities, and nongovernment organizations. In 2015-2016, 350 stakeholders engaged in creating National Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines, funded from the Australian government.