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Project Description

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.


This research 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.



The COVID-GEA Project methodology is based on principles of interdisciplinary integration and implements a mixed-method study design, where quantitative and qualitative data are collected and analyzed sequentially, concurrently, and iteratively at different stages of research. It will contribute to COVID-19-related gender impacts in selected domains of gender equality: political/public administration, economic, social, civic, and personal. 


This project also uses a case study approach, employing mixed methods to identify and evaluate pandemic impacts on women. Qualitative data collection includes interviews and focus groups with women in Alaska, Iceland, and Russia. Study locations were selected to reflect both rural and urban contexts and to include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. 


Indigenizing Arctic social science research is an important priority for the COVID-GEA team. Consequently, the research team uses Indigenous methods where appropriate under the leadership of Indigenous communities. The project team understands that not all Indigenous methods are equally appropriate to all Arctic Indigenous communities and will always follow community directives. 


The COVID-GEA project research team adheres to the following principles: 


  • Guidelines of the NSF Office of Polar Programs.

  • FAIR and CARE principles on Indigenous data sovereignty and governance. 

  • The Free, Prior, Informed Consent.

  • Local communities’ cultural protocols for fieldwork research.

  • The principle of community engagement at all stages of project implementation. 

  • The principle of transparency.

All COVID-GEA researchers went through the ethics training and human subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) process.

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