“Women of the Arctic” will begin with a special theatre performance at the welcoming reception of the 2018 UArctic Congress in Helsinki on September 6th. It will continue with a FULL-day of programming on September 7th.


september 6:

20:00, EVENING RECEPTION, The Think Corner

THE Arctic cycle performance of 'whale song'

Supported by funding from NordForsk, “Women of the Arctic” organizers are collaborating with The Arctic Cycle playwright and Artistic Director, Chantal Bilodeau, to present a short play, Whale Song, inspired by the women of Alaska. Whale Song is a 15-minute live performance about the migration of several females – both human and animal – within, as well as in an out of Alaska, against a backdrop of climate change. It will take place at The Think Corner, during the evening reception of the UArctic Congress.

september 7:

8:30, The Think Corner, Fönster Room


There will be three 90-minute panels focusing on women’s issues and perspectives in decision-making, business, science and education as well as ‘uncomfortable’ conversations related to Arctic women and gender that often remain sidelined in the mainstream discourse. Among the invited panelists are women from all of the Arctic states, representing both public and private sectors, of indigenous and non-indigenous origins.

Three questions:

All panels will be guided by a series of three overarching questions:

  1. What do women of the Arctic see as the most pressing issues to be addressed in their respective fields/communities?
  2. What do they see as the greatest challenges in addressing these issues?
  3. Which tools do women of the Arctic identify as necessary to solving these issues? Alternatively, which tools are already working?




Welcome from UArctic Congress 2018 International Steering Committee Chair & UArctic Vice President
Outi Snellman

Welcome from WoA Organizers
Tahnee Prior, Gosia Smieszek, Reetta Toivanen

Opening Remarks from Finland’s State Secretary
Honourable Paula Lehtomäki


8:45 – 10:15

Northern Women at the Table:
From Community to Business Leaders

This panel draws on the experiences of women mayors, entrepreneurs, and civil society leaders to debate their experiences at the table, ways of increasing women’s representation across all those sectors, and to encourage the stepping up of the next generation of women leaders.

EVA BIAUDET (FIN), Member of Parliament, Finnish Parliament
REBEKKA BORSCH (NOR), State Secretary for Research and Higher Education Minister of Norway
SARA OLSVIG (GRL), Member of Parliament, Leader of the Party Inuit Ataqatigiit
VALENTINA SOVKINA (RUS), Speaker of the Saami Parliament of the Kola Peninsula, Director of the Kola Saami Radio Co. Ltd.

OUTI SNELLMAN (FIN), Vice-President of Organization, UArctic


10:15 – 10:45

panel 2

10:45 – 12:15

Women in Arctic Science & Exploration

Panelists with a background in traditional and indigenous knowledge, as well as Western science, from both Arctic and non-Arctic countries will explore how policy, education, international collaboration and mentoring can support women’s scientific careers and promote greater diversity in polar science.

RENUKA BADHE (NL), Executive Secretary of the European Polar Board
KAREN BARNES (CAN), President & Vice-Chancellor of Yukon College
SUSAN R. EATON (CAN), Founder and Leader of the Sedna Epic Expedition
MARINA KALININA (RUS), Rector's Advisor for International Cooperation NArFU
GUNN-BRITT RETTER (NOR), Head of the Arctic & Environment Unit, Sami Council
YLVA SJOBERG (SWE), Researcher, Stockholm University

MALGORZATA (GOSIA) SMIESZEK (FIN/POL), Researcher, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland


12:15 – 13:15

panel 3

13:15 – 14:45

Grappling with ‘Uncomfortable’ Conversations:

Speakers on this panel will examine some of the causes of, and solutions to, systemic and gender-based violence in northern communities and industries which disproportionately impact the lives of northern women and children. Special focus will be given to the role that art can play in unpacking and healing from such experiences.

LOUISE FONTAIN (GRL/NOR), Artist and Collaborator on “Nomadic Woman”
SIGTHRUDUR GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR (ICE), Director of Kvennaathvarf, Iceland’s first and only women’s shelter
LIISA HOLMBERG (FIN), Rector of the Sami Education Institute and Director of the International Sami Film Institute
MICHELLE DEMMERT (USA), Law & Policy Consultant, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center and Chief Justice, Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
KATARZYNA PASTUSZAK (POL), Artistic Director of the Amareya Theatre

TAHNEE PRIOR (CAN), Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, University of Waterloo


UArctic Congress Closing Session
With Tarja Halonen

15:00 – 17:00


The day will end with the UArctic Congress Closing Session with former President of Finland, Ms. Tarja Halonen, the first woman to hold the position and an active spokesperson on gender issues and girl’s and women’s rights.