"I work as a researcher in the Unit for Gender Studies at the University of Lapland. My principal academic interest lies in multidisciplinary approaches to the study of elderly persons in the context of the Arctic change. The topics I have explored centre on the challenges facing the elderly population in the North, in particular issues of gender equality, social justice and traditional activities that affect their well-being. My research interests coincide closely with those of the North to North programme, which I learned about in the year 2015.
I had an opportunity through the programme to visit the University of Aarhus from 12 to 16 September 2016. While there I met with Professor Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen, who is director of the Centre for Arctic Health in the Department of Public Health, and Assistant Professor Pelle Tejsner, who works in the University’s Artic Research Centre. The goals I set for the visit included gathering knowledge on northern cultures and traditional activities, extending and establishing a research network and doing archival research on the health and well-being of people living in the North.
My main goal was to gather knowledge that I can put to use in my PhD research. I had the chance to do both interactive research and archival research. Both Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen and Assistant Professor Tejsner stated that one of the most serious issues in Greenland is the changing lifestyle. My archival research involved reading and collecting manuscripts, scientific articles and other relevant documents about the Greenlandic people and their culture. The information I gathered dealt with the people’s lifestyle and their health and well-being. One of the topics I looked into was the cultural and traditional activities of the residents of Nuuk, the material on which allowed me to investigate the gendered dimensions of these activities. I also collected documents on gender equality and social justice among elderly persons in the changing Arctic.
My visit to Aarhus was successful, as I was able to acquire knowledge on the traditional activities of the Inuit people and on how important these activities are in maintaining the people’s identity. This knowledge will help me to make a comparative study between the Inuit and Sami cultures. I have also learnt that the impacts of developmental activities on the Inuit people have been positive as well as negative. One interesting observation I made is that the role of gender is changing in Inuit society. Men are directly involved in hunting and fishing.
The majority of the women contribute their economic share through work in different social sectors, for example, day care or the schools. They also help in different ways in traditional activities but this contribution is not recognized; for example, after a hunt women skin the animals caught, which is not easy work. What is more, women contribute economically to maintaining traditional activities, for example, by purchasing a boat for fishing.
At present, I am coordinating the network Advancing Elderly People’s Agency and Inclusion in the Changing Arctic and Nordic Welfare System, and the University of Aarhus has become a new partner in this project. The project was started in the Unit of Gender Studies where I work and is led by Professor Päivi Naskali. It has received funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers under its Arctic Co-operation Programme for the year 2016 - 2017.
Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen shared her work experience with me, providing insights into women’s health, how the Inuit live and how the ongoing changes affect their well-being. In addition to this learning opportunity, I had a chance to explore the city of Aarhus, which I found to be quite extraordinary. Among other things, I visited the Women’s Museum to gather knowledge on women’s life, work, gender roles and identity. The museum is one of the world's rare women's history museums that provides ample historic background and focuses squarely on women's lives.
Overall, the visit to the University of Aarhus will support me in furthering my academic aims. I am thankful to the North to North programme for the opportunity".