The Arctic Change and Elderly Exclusion: A gender-based perspective

Project Summary

This project addresses older people’s concerns prevailing in the Arctic with a special focus on the concept of ‘exclusion’. While in the Arctic the climate change motivated factors provide an important consequence, the region’s old people greatly suffer from multifaceted changes including social, cultural, environmental, and economic. In this context, it is important to see how the concept of ‘exclusion’ takes place, and how to develop an understanding of the importance of the elderly concerns in parallel to a gender based perspective. It is important to note that Nordic countries have previously focused on people’s equality, respect for human rights, gender equality, the promotion of health and well-being, openness etc. However, there has not been any exclusive investigation in regard to the older peoples ‘exclusion’ in the Arctic context. This project will, therefore, address an area in which a clear knowledge gap exists. As far as well-being is connected with a decent living environment, this project attaches also great importance to environmental issues and challenges, and aims at enhancing international co-operation with the Nordic countries which is increasingly important in a globalized world. Moreover, in the Arctic region the question is very topical. It is also imperative because of the presence of a significant number of indigenous people, the older of whom are the holders of traditional knowledge. While the population is in northern parts of Scandinavia and Russia ageing even more rapidly than in these countries in general, it is extremely important to find methods to encourage the elder people to express themselves and to find ways to pass the information to the central actors responsible for local development in municipal and regional levels. The overall aim thus includes seeking for the possibility of engagement for the older people to create room for the prevention of social isolation and for the promotion of inclusion in social sphere, which will facilitate older people wellbeing and their rights.

Specific objectives

  • To identify the specific challenges faced by the older people in the Nordic Arctic region. Since these challenges are often related to various socio-cultural and environmental transformation mainly caused by the rapid climate change in the region, one of the important objectives is to investigate the impact of climate change on the older people living in the region;
  • To investigate how the multiple dimensions play a role in ‘exclusion’, and how to develop the concept of ‘inclusion’ taken place in regard to the older people, in the Arctic context;
  • To develop an understanding on the gender-based perspective in the older people social exclusion in the region; and
  • To promote the rights of the older people in the specific Nordic Arctic context, with special reference to their right to physical and mental health.


The project primarily aims at performing a network based functions including the promotion of research in the above mentioned field, and extensive dialogue among the project participants, stake-holders and policy makers. At its final phase, the project will result in three things:

a) an edited volume consisting of the research contributions by the project participants on the theme of the project;
b) a policy recommendation report highlighting the active “inclusion” of older people, and offering a gender dimension in such inclusion, based on the dialogues to be held among the project participants; and
c) creation of a platform for further research and study on the theme.

The project involved participants from academia who are involved in aging and/or gender research, the stakeholders and policy makers. Academia includes researchers working within the theme of the projects, primarily from the educational institutions from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, but also from other countries. Among the others, the project expects to invite stakeholders, such as professionals working with the older people, representatives of older peoples associations, and older people themselves. Amongst the policy makers, representatives of governments or local authorities, for example, members of the Sami Parliaments will be invited to take part in the dialogues. The project expects to organize a kick off meeting and three workshops within its life. The kick off meeting was held in the host institution (the University of Lapland), and the first workshop was held in Umeå, December, 2013. Two other workshops are expected to be held in Finland, Norway. In addition to extensive dialogue, a research report as an edited volume and a policy recommendation report will be published at the end of the project with a view to promoting the agenda further.


Project funded by:
Nordic Council Of Ministers
Arctic Co-operation Program 2012-2014

Project period:

Project leader:

Päivi Naskali
Professor & Dean
Unit for Gender Studies
Faculty of Education

Project Co-lead:
Marjaana Seppänen
Professor of Gerontological Social Work
University of Lapland

Project Coordinator:
Shahnaj Begum
Unit for Gender Studies
Faculty of Education