Inuit women and environmental change: examining experiences and adaptations in Iqaluit, Nunavut

Climate change impacts in the Arctic will be differentiated by gender, yet few empirical studies have investigated how. Through our case study of the Inuit community of Iqaluit, Nunavut, we identify and characterize vulnerability and adaptive capacity of Inuit women to changing climatic conditions. Interviews were conducted with 42 Inuit women, and were complimented with focus group discussions and participant observation to examine how women have experienced and responded to changes in climate already observed. Three key traditional activities were identified as being exposed and sensitive to changing conditions: berry picking, sewing, and the amount of time spent on the land. Several coping mechanisms were described to help women manage these exposure-sensitivities, including altering the timing and location of berry picking, and importing seal skins for sewing. The adaptive capacity to employ these mechanisms differed among participants, however, a function of mental health, physical health, traditional/western education, access to country food and store bought foods, access to financial resources, social networks, and connection to Inuit identity. The study finds that gender roles result in different pathways through which changing climatic conditions affect people locally, although the broad determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity for women are consistent with those identified for men in the scholarship more broadly. More in-depth results sharing of this research will be occurring on February 10th-11th 2016 at the Nunavut Research Institute. If you would like more information, detailed plain language results dissemination booklets, 2 page technical summaries, academic articles published as a result of this work, or a policy brief for your organization please contact Anna Bunce at anna@annabunce.com.