Arctic Women's Voices:
Standing Strong in the Face of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastation across the globe, but it has had an immense impact on the Arctic, in particular, due to a number of factors such as the climate, remoteness of the region, and historical underrepresentation of Indigenous communities. However, the impacts and consequences differ across regions and genders. Women, specifically, were disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, such as elevated unemployment, increased unpaid work, domestic violence, and higher health risks.
This forum 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.
Bringing Arctic women's voices to light will help us reflect on lessons learned and broaden our perspective about how dramatic events such as COVID-19 impact Arctic communities and women specifically. Women's voices from the Arctic must be heard to become a part of the broader history of COVID-19.
"We need to admit that there was impact,
both mentally and physically,"
– Hulda Sif Hermannsdóttir,
Tell your own story!
Did you live in the Arctic during the pandemic?
We would love to hear your insights and give you an opportunity to share your experiences with others around the world.
Please send us your video here
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These stories introduce powerful narratives of grief and resilience, reflect on feelings of isolation and moments of despair, as well as project boundless optimism and self-empowerment.
Charla Jean Basran, Húsavík, Iceland
Charla Jean Basran, Ph.D., is a Post-doctoral Researcher and Scientific Advisor at the University of Iceland Research Centre in Húsavík. She is a marine biologist and primarily working on whale photo-identification and entanglement monitoring and mitigation, as well as behaviour and acoustics.
Kelly Bertrand, Anchorage, Alaska
Kelly is a lifelong Alaskan with ten years of experience in the public education system, with a focus on providing speech and language therapy services to young children and adolescents.
Hulda Sif Hermannsdóttir, Akureyri, Iceland
Hulda Sif has been an assistant to the mayor of Akureyri since 2017, working for two mayors. She focuses on project management, public administration, and best practices in those fields.
Andrea Sigrún Hjálmsdóttir, Akureyri, Iceland
Andrea Hjálmsdóttir lives and works in Akureyri, where she is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Akureyri and a doctorate candidate at the University of Iceland. Her research area includes work-life balance, gender equality among Ph.D. holders and adolescents' attitudes toward gender equality. During the first wave of Covid-19 in early 2020, Andrea and her colleague Valgerður S. Bjarnadóttir conducted a real-time diary research among mothers in Iceland and their experiences during Covid-19. They are now working on a follow-up study based on interviews with parents of school-aged children on their Covid-19 experiences.
Claudia Ihl, Nome, Alaska
Claudia was born in Germany but moved to Alaska to study Arctic Biology. She currently works as biology faculty for the NW Campus in Nome, a branch of the University of Alaska. She teaches biology classes and conducts research on the local muskoxen population.
Sveinbjörg Smáradóttir, Akureyri, Iceland
Sveinbjörg Smáradóttir is a researcher at the Stefansson Arctic Institute and a part-time teacher at the University of Akureyri. Her research fields are youth in the Arctic and quality of life in the Arctic, and she has participated in projects such as Seawomen of Iceland, JustNorth, and Arctic Youth and Sustainable Futures.
Eva Rut Tryggvadóttir, Akureyri, Iceland
Eva Rut Tryggvadóttir is a mother of two and a business owner with an educational background in interior architecture.
Eva works as a designer and interior consultant at her own firm Studio Minta founded in 2020, providing interior consultation and design to businesses and individuals as well as specialized services to stores.
She currently lives and works in the city of Akureyri in the northern part of Iceland.
Tell us your own story! Please send us a link with your video recorded.