Women disappearing from the Faroe Islands

The very existence of the Faroese people is being challenged by young women leaving the islands, never to return

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
October 23rd, 2013 10:37 am| by admin
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The Faroe Islands may not be the best destination for anyone looking to meet eligible women. Not because Faroese women are not attractive – they are – but because they are simply not there.

Young Faroese women often leave the tiny north Atlantic island nation to study in places like Oslo, Copenhagen or London – and fully half never return home.

This drops the number of women of childbearing age dramatically, leading to a falling birth rate and an unsure future for the picturesque but rugged Faroes.

“It is a question of survival,” Hermann Oskarsson, a former chief economic advisor in the Faroe Islands, told Politiken newspaper. “The young women that should be here to give birth to children are gone.”

Asian brides
There are already 2,000 more men than women on the Faroes – which has a total population of just under 50,000 – and some of those men have taken matters into their own hands by importing wives and companions from the Philippines and Thailand.

Filipinos and Thais make up two of the largest groups of foreigners on the Faroe Islands . There are now 200 Thais and Filipinos – mostly women – spread out over the islands.

In the tiny hamlet of Klaksvík located in the northern part of the islands, there are already 15 women from Asia.

Bjarni Ziska Dahl, who married his Filipino wife in 2010, said that the foreign women could well be the answer to the issues facing the Faros.

“We must recognise that there is a problem, and welcome these strangers with dignity,” Dahl told DR Nyheder. “We need these people.”

Both Dahl and his wife Che said that they have a lot in common: island life, a dedication to family and a longing for simplicity. Dahl said that Asian woman are often willing to take jobs that Faroese women will not do.

One woman’s take
Tina (not her real name), is a Faroese woman in her 20s who chose to leave home and come to Denmark.

“I moved because I had been abused and couldn’t talk about it at home,” she told The Copenhagen Post. “I loved being in Denmark because I was anonymous and did not have to say hello to everyone I met on the street.”

Tina said that the men on the Faroe Islands are at least part of the reason that the Faroese women leave.

“There is still an old-boy network of men that feel like they are in charge, but women are slowly getting into the game,” she said.

But even though she hasn’t yet returned to the islands, Tina says that there is still no place like home.

“Nothing moves me like the Faroese nature,” she said. “We live one day at a time and are not slaves to the calendar.”

Until relatively recently, the Faroese needed to catch a boat every time they wanted to travel to one of the 18 islands (photo: Vincent van Zeijst)
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