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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 in 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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March 5–7, 2024

The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.)


October 25–26, 2023

The Municipal library of Akureyri (Akureyri, Iceland)

Húsavík Academic Center (Húsavík, Iceland)


February 17–24, 2023

Arctic Science Summit Week-2023

University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)


January 30, 2023

Arctic Frontiers 2023: Moving North

Fram Center (Tromsø, Norway)

Audio-visual Exhibition

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

This exhibition presents women from Alaska and northern Iceland.

Among them – 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.

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.


October 20, 2023 

Reykjavík, Iceland


Arctic Circle Assembly 


Session Urban Youth and Resilience of Arctic Cities.

In October, the COVID-GEA Project team organized a Breakout Session in the Arctic Circle Assembly, the largest annual international gathering on Arctic affairs, with over 2,000 participants from more than 60 countries.


The Session brought together Arctic mayors, Arctic Indigenous leaders, and expert community to discuss current and future prospects of the Arctic urban youth.

April 16–20, 2024

Honolulu, Hawai'i 


2024 AAG Annual Meeting

Session Indigenizing Research Agenda and Geography Research Methodologies 


Indigenizing research agenda and research methods is an important priority to ensure that geographical research is respectful and inclusive of Indigenous knowledge, is ethically conducted, and addresses urgent community needs and priorities.

We invite researchers, especially Indigenous scholars, to share their experiences in implementing the Indigenized and knowledge co-production approaches throughout the complete research process.



  • Dr. Stanislav Ksenofontov, ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa

  • Dr. Marya Rozanova-Smith, The George Washington University

  • Prof. Andrey Petrov, ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa.


The Session is organized by the ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa, Measuring Urban Sustainability in Transition (MUST) Project, the Understanding the Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic (COVID-GEA) Project, and the Socio-Ecological Systems Transformation in River basins of the sub-Arctic under climate change (SESTRA) Project.

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