The Mary Fran Myers Award, 2014

Rosemary Du Plessis

Rosemary Du Plessis
2014 Recipient of the Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award

Rosemary Du Plessis has been involved in women and gender-focused activities since the mid-1970s. She was one of the first academics in New Zealand to offer sociology courses with a women/gender focus, organised women's studies conferences, and was active within the Society for Research on Women (SROW), a community-based research organisation. During the last three years she has been research coordinator for Women's Voices: Recording women's stories of the Canterbury earthquakes. It is in this capacity that she has received the Mary Fran Myers Award.

Women's Voices was initiated by the Christchurch Branch of the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) after several major earthquakes in 2010-2011 caused death, injury, damage and disruption to Rosemary's home city of Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region. The outcome of this community-based project, incorporating the efforts of many women, is a digital archive of women's earthquake stories

After the devastating 22 February 2011 quake, it was important to document women's energies, ingenuity, sorrows, struggles and earthquake activism. Judith Sutherland, Liz Gordon, Helen Gibson and Rosemary Du Plessis formed a core committee that developed a research strategy to ensure that one hundred women's stories were recorded. During the first stage of the project, they were joined by Roberta Hill. Rosemary Baird and Amanda England contributed as researchers in 2011 and 2012. Crucial to the project was the work of over 30 volunteer interviewers, many of them NCWNZ members, who recorded the stories women of different ages and life circumstances all over the city.

During 2013, an additional forty stories were recorded. The focus was on women in the eastern parts of the city where the damage was most severe, where more families lived in rental housing, and incomes were lowest. Additional interviews were also recorded with Māori, Pasifika and new immigrant women from countries like Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Once again volunteer interviews recorded stories, and Brigid Buckenham and Elizabeth Ashby worked as researchers on the project. Liz Gordon analysed the narratives and, together with Judith Sutherland, Helen Gibson and Rosemary Du Plessis, wrote the final report: Movers and Shakers: Women's stories from the Christchurch earthquakes

Photo: Abi Keene, Photography BA Internship student, Women's Unheard Voices Project, 2014.

Previously: 2013 Mary Fran Myers Awardee -Zenaida or Zen Delica-Willison

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. 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