Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Inuit Women to Climate Change: A Case Study from Iqaluit, Nunavut

Citation:

Bunce, Anna, James Ford, Sherilee Harper, and Victoria Edge. 2016. “Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Inuit Women to Climate Change: A Case Study from Iqaluit, Nunavut.” Natural Hazards 83 (3): 1419–41

Authors: Anna Bunce, James Ford, Sherilee Harper, Victoria Edge

Abstract:

Climate change impacts in the Arctic will be differentiated by gender, yet few empirical studies have investigated how. We use a case study from the Inuit community of Iqaluit, Nunavut, to 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, such as 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, 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 emerged as key components of Inuit women’s adaptive capacity. 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.

Keywords: climate change, women, adaptation, vulnerability, gender, Inuit, Nunavut

Topics: Education, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gender Roles, Health Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2016

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