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The Mary Fran Myers Award, 2013

Zen Delica-Willison

Zen Delica-Willison
2013 Recipient of the Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award

Zenaida or Zen as she is commonly known among grassroots organizations in the Philippines and the international DRR community, is a pioneering figure behind Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) in the Philippines and has worked in various capacities in disasters and development for more than thirty years at the national, regional and international levels.

She served as director of the Citizen's Disaster Response Center (CDRC) for ten years before co-founding the Centre for Disaster Preparedness, which builds capacities of non-government organizations and the government sector on various aspects of the CBDRM framework. Zen's CBDRM work is guided by gender and cultural sensitivity, believing that women, men and children have different perceptions of risks, different needs and priorities. Disaster risk reduction, Zen contends, must not lose sight of the long-term goal of addressing the underlying causes of vulnerabilities, thus the need to anchor DRR activities within a broader view of development. Her passionate work in bringing about grassroots development in the Philippines especially during the authoritarian regime of Marcos has earned her and her then two year old daughter a stint in prison for two and a half years.

Her unwavering belief in community-based approaches both in development and disaster risk reduction has led her to pitch the idea of organising the South-South Citizenry-based Development Academy (SS-CBDA) to the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation in UNDP. Co-organizing these Academies with local and national partners, she also served as facilitator and resource person in the successful implementation of six Citizenry-Based Development Academies in Gujarat, Banda Aceh, Camarines Sur, Delhi, Kupang and Orissa, putting emphasis on the importance of building opportunities that encourage voices of community members -- women, men and children--to be heard.
Her recognition as an expert in community-based disaster risk reduction is a continuing testament to women's capability to excel in what remains a male-dominated field.
Zen served as Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor for the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation in UNDP, posted at the Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok before her retirement in November 2012. Despite her recent retirement, she remains actively involved in DRR and development work by supporting the programs and activities of the Center for Disaster Preparedness and other organizations requesting for her assistance.

Zen Delica-Willison


Previously: 2012 Mary Fran Myers Awardee - Damairia Pakpahan

Damairia Pakpahan Damairia (Damai) Pakpahan has worked for decades in the areas of gender justice and development, including work related to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and issues of climate change and earthquakes. She has personally trained more 500 civil servants on issues of gender, development, and disasters. Her work for the Aceh Tsunami Programme has significantly increased understanding of gender issues.Read more...

Call for Nominations

The Gender and Disaster Network and the Natural Hazards Center invite nominations of those who should be recognized for their efforts to advance gender-sensitive policy, practice, or research in the areas of disaster risk reduction. Read more

List of award recipients