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Understanding the Gendered
Impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic


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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on Arctic communities; however, these consequences differ from region to region and across genders. During the pandemic, women, in particular Indigenous women, were disproportionately vulnerable to effects of the pandemic such as  elevated unemployment, loss of income, increased unpaid work – homework and child/elderly care – during stay-at-home orders, domestic violence, and higher health risks, particularly among those employed in the health and social care sectors. Most importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely deepened gender inequality for years to come.


The COVID-GEA project aims to capture, understand, and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic gender impacts and gendered policy responses with a focus on women in the Arctic to support informed gender-oriented policy response strategies. 


Capitalizing on the project “Understanding Gender Equality and Empowerment in the Arctic'' (UGEEA) and engaging other NSF and Arctic Council supported research initiatives (most importantly, COVITA and GEA III), the COVID-GEA project integrates regional (Alaska, northern Iceland, and Nenets Autonomous Region) and local information flows to assess the COVID-19 implications on Arctic women in urban centers and rural communities. 

Arctic Communities of Focus

The Arctic is a politically and culturally diverse region that comprises territories of eight states, including Canada, Finland, Greenland (the Kingdom of Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.


To provide a comprehensive perspective on COVID-19 pandemic’s gender impacts and gendered policy responses, the COVID-GEA Project focuses on three different yet indicative study regions representing all three Arctic models of gender equality as identified by the UGEEA Project: the ‘North American Arctic,’ ‘Nordic Arctic,’ and ‘Russian Arctic.’ 


The Project uses a multiscale approach by integrating diverse information flows from urban and rural settings in each study region. 

Map U.S. Department of State. Map of the Arctic Region (n.d.).

Our Team

The interdisciplinary COVID-GEA team consists of researchers with backgrounds in different social science disciplines, Indigenous scholars and knowledge-holders. 


The Project engages students majoring in social sciences in interdisciplinary research and fieldwork activities. Investing in the future generation of researchers and subject-matter experts is one of the COVID-GEA top priorities.

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February 17–24, 2023

Vienna, Austria


Audio-visual Exhibition

Arctic Women’s Voices: Standing Strong in the Face of COVID-19

University of Vienna

Universitätsring 1
1010 Vienna

The central foyer, 2nd floor, next door to the famous "Großer Festsaal."


This exhibition presents women from Alaska and northern Iceland whom we met in 2022. Among them were small business owners, scientists, healthcare providers, farmers, social workers, educators, government officials, and emerging youth community leaders. Inspired by their lives, we invited these women to share their stories to allow us to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic's complex gendered impacts on the Arctic communities and life in the Arctic as a whole.


This exhibition is organized by the COVID-GEA project, and is a part of the Arctic Science Summit Week-2023.

Exhibition curator:

Marya Rozanova-Smith (The George Washington University).

Poster designers:

Laura Goodfield, Sophie Rosenthal, Polina Saburova, and Marya Rozanova-Smith.

Promo video/audio producer:

Emily Frisan.



First and foremost, we express our sincere appreciation to all exhibition contributors who shared their stories with us. Our deep gratitude goes to Polina Saburova (Indiana University Bloomington) for video editing and guidance on exhibition design and Emily Frisan (GWU) for producing the promo video and audio. Special thanks go to the COVID-GEA project Iceland partners Embla Eir Oddsdóttir and Sveinbjörg Smáradóttir (IACN), Alaska partner Charlene Apok, Andrey Petrov (UNI), and the COVID-GEA team members Riya Bhushan, Laura Goodfield, and Sophie Rosenthal (GWU).

We are very grateful to Gerlis Fugmann (IASC) and all the ASSW-2023 organizers, especially Peter Schwetzer, Olga Povoroznuk, and Khaled Hakami (University of Vienna), for their valuable support. We also acknowledge funding from the

U.S. National Science Foundation (project entitled "Understanding Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic (COVID-GEA),"

PLR #2137410) and overall support of the Department of Geography (GWU).


October 13-16, 2022 

Reykjavík, Iceland


Arctic Circle Assembly 


Session: Arctic Urban Communities: Building Resilience Amid and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The purpose of the Session is to bring together top policymakers, Arctic Indigenous leaders, including Indigenous youth, and expert community representatives to discuss current and future prospects of the urban communities resilience in the Arctic amid and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

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