To keep a leading role in the green transition DK depends on skilled, international labor. According to Expat Insider, an international platform listing quality of life for international newcomers, DK is considered the most difficult country worldwide to get a local network in.


This social isolation hits women the hardest. They therefore push the family to leave DK for another country. On average this costs 1 mil. DKK according to Business Esbjerg.

Feeling at home is predominantly something tangible. Not intellectual. Experiencing nature also lays in the senses. Research show that nature can play a big role in mental health. Without a bond to the local nature, you will never feel at home in Denmark.

TFC use nature to break the loneliness of female expats by creating a unique structure of activities to nurture the sense of feeling at home in DK. We offer events unique enough to attract Danish women and hereby build meaningful relations to local women and bond to local nature. Making the families stay.

A shipwreck underwater.

Milking the blue cow – again!

Milking the blue cow is an old saying here in the most westly of Denmark: In the 1800’s the dune farmers led hash lives. The barren soil by the coastal line of The Northern Sea made it hard to survive. But the coastline was also treacherous water, so back then shipwrecking was not uncommon.

Goods from shipwreck belonged to the crown, so the dune farmers had to sneak down to the beach in the dark of the night to salvage anything they could before the King’s shore officer came to confiscate it. They went to milk the blue cow. A salvage could mean the difference between survival or not.

Today the green transition here in Southwest Jutland makes it necessary for us to milk the blue cow again: We totally depend on qualified labor from all over the world to land on our coast. But when they land here a lot of the internationals do not feel very welcome and included in local community. Especially the women feel lonely and shipwrecked and end up causing the families to leave again.

The Problem    |    Women    |     Nature    |     ESG

Esbjerg’s dire strait in a nutshell

Even though Esbjerg has seen a dramatic raise in job openings, we have no raise in citizens. This is due to both national and local challenges.

Lack of skilled labor

Denmark is deeply dependent on being able to attract skilled international labor. All over Denmark companies over struggling to fill vacant positions.

With our leading role in the green transition Southwest Jutland are especially in dire strait. In the coming years there will be up to 10.000 new job openings and local companies have great difficulties finding candidates for current vacant positions.

National image

Amongst Danish women Esbjerg is fighting with an image as a masculine city with a technical monoculture. They perceive Esbjerg as a city lacking holistic values and cultural diversity. Women have the decisive role as to where to family should live. So the families settles down in Kolding or Vejle and the husbands commute to Esbjerg from there.

International image

Amongst international families Denmark are perceived as the most difficult country in the world to find local friends. Regarding local friendliness we are third last worldwide. In categories “Opportunity for personal happiness” and “Opportunity for a meaningful leisure life” we are also among the bottom three. This statistic makes the recruitment of skilled labor even harder. We need better stories about Esbjerg that makes us stand out.

Costly loneliness

1.000.000 DKK. According to Business Esbjerg this is the average cost for local companies, when an international family chose to leave Esbjerg for another country. The Female Connection interviewed a number of international women living in Esbjerg Kommune. The majority of women did not feel part of the local community. The lack of social relations to local women was amongst the biggest factor for wanting to leave Esbjerg. Over half of the interviewed experienced Danish “foreningliv” (club/association life) as excluding rather than including. Both monetary and humanitary.

Even though Denmark/Esbjerg is world leading in bæredygtighed we lack skills in væredygtighed.

The heart of the problem

Esbjerg is struggling with lack of skilled labor, international image, national image and sense of loneliness amongst the people that do come here. Socially many of them end up feeling shipwrecked.

The Female Connection have analyzed the complex problem of attracting and retaining citizens and labor to Esbjerg by splitting it to different sectors. Doing this it became clear that there are three levels to the challenge: The individual, the local and the national level. These levels are interdependent, but today solutions are mostly approached separately.

A shipwreck underwater.
A shipwreck underwater.

On a national level the key owners of the problem are Danish companies, as reported in this Altinget article.

“Our aging population is pressuring our economy as a whole and we have never been more desperate for high in-demand skills from abroad, to help drive technological advancements, and further accelerate the innovative potential in our industries.”

This has made inclusion and diversity one of the top subjects in Danish board-meetings.

On the local level there is a fierce fight among the municipalities over newcomers. Here in Esbjerg the municipality has initiated a branding strategy to attract Danish families from other municipalities. Research show that branding only has a minimal effect on young Danish families choice of hometown.

On the individual level Denmark is experienced as the hardest countries for expats to get included in the local social life. As mirrored in the statistic above a lot of stories about loneliness in Denmark are told around the world, when the spouse push the (mostly) husband to get employment in other countries. And this just make it even harder to attract new labor.

A shipwreck underwater.

According to Esbjerg Newcomer Service it is the international newcomers that secure the stagnation in citizens. Without them the population of Esbjerg would be constantly falling. The trickier to start a positive mutual synergy effect is to be found in the center area of the figure.


Is there a common denominator on all three levels which can be activated to start a positive snowball-effect?

The Problem    |    Women    |     Nature    |     ESG

Women as the common denominator

When you focus on the common denominator it becomes clear that women represent a substantial part of Esbjerg’s challenges.

Among the internationals the loneliness of the spouses is often the reason why the (mostly) working husband ends up looking for jobs outside of Denmark. In interviews the women mention the lack of relations to local Danish women as the prime reason why the family do not settle down permanently in Esbjerg.

In the Danish families the women have by far the biggest influence in deciding where the family should settle down and due to the city’s masculine image, Esbjerg is often opted out. So the families stay in Vejle or Kolding and the husband commute to and from Esbjerg every day.

Esbjerg is opted out for similar reason by international and Danish women; namely the experienced and perceived possibilities for a satisfying social and cultural life outside the workplace.

At The Female Connection we are therefore convinced that if we work focused and ambitiously on giving the international women a meaningful social life and create relatedness to Esbjerg, we solve “the problem with Danish women” simultaneously:

The processes that TFC facilitates to build up relatedness to Esbjerg among both local Danish and international women will be so ambitious that Esbjerg in 3-4 years after startup will start being known a female friendly city of diversity, inclusion and open mindedness. A city where bæredygtighed goes hand in hand with væredygtighed.

The problem with women: Making Esbjerg feel at home

1. We have identified the key challenges the city of Esbjerg and our local companies are struggling with.

2. We have identified women as one of the corner stones to the solution of Esbjerg’s problems.

How will The Female Connection build up relatedness to Esbjerg, making Esbjerg feel at home for our many lonely female newcomers and simultaneously creating a new narrative of our city that reach the Danish women in a national level?

We make use of something that is unique for Esbjerg and Southwest Jutland: The Wadden Sea. We have world nature heritage just aside our window.

There will always be more cafés in Paris, more galleries in London. And the water will be warmer in Barcelona. But the Wadden Sea is uniquely ours. And research shows that the mental processes that makes us feel at home overlap and reenforce the mental processes that happens in our brain when we reside in nature.

A shipwreck underwater.

The 7 senses of feeling at home

Ph.D. Carsten Schjøtt Philipsen have done extensive research defining what makes us the feel “at home”. Whether you feel at home in your house, in your local café or on a bicycle trip in the forest, Carsten Schjøtt Philipsen has identified 7 senses that almost always recur when feeling “at home”:


    1. Fall in stress-level.
    2. Reduced attention.
    3. Control over nearest surroundings.
    4. Freedom from others rules.
    5. Acknowledgement of your presence, feeling welcome.
    6. The possibility of withdrawal, being in sanctuary.
    7. Use of personal things.

The Problem    |    Women    |    Nature    |     ESG

How residing in nature affects your brain

Brain researcher professor Kjeld Fredens explains how our brain reacts when we spend time in nature

We are always part of a context, a certain cultural space that defines how we behave. Nature is a totally different space, that awakes different feelings, among them a “superfeeling”, awe, the sense of things bigger then us, beyond our control.

It is a superfeeling because it is universal. It goes across cultures. And it makes your brain go from one kind of attention to another:

You go from focused attention to holistic attention. Focused attention is what we use when we have tasks to do at work, at home, shopping etc. We focus sharply on 10%, but lose 90% compared to the holistic approach. Nothing wrong with that.

When in nature the brain lets go of being in focused attention and shifts to holistic attention, in research called “effectless attention” and your body shifts from being dominated by the sympathetic nervous system to the para-sympathetic nervous system. If we are too long in the sympathetic nervous system we risk stress and burn out.

Being in nature, shifting to the para-sympathetic nervous system your pulse and stress level goes down. Your creativity, feeling of connectedness and complex thinking goes up. You become more empathetic, better at finding solutions and seeing new opportunities while you recharge your batteries.


At home in nature, the possibility

of a ”we”

Comparing the makeup of feeling at home with what goes on in the brain when you reside in nature makes it clear that some of the same brain processes are going on: less stress, a shift in attention, freedom from others’ rules, and the possibility of withdrawal from demands.

But the essential difference between “feeling at home” and residing in nature is, that the feeling of being at home nurtures the individual, the “I”. Residing in nature nurtures connectedness, it nurtures a “we”. As Carsten Schjøtt also points out:

“If you suffer from loneliness, your home does not have the qualities of “feeling at home”. Then you only find those feelings outside your home.

The lesson that can be learned by comparing the two pieces of research is, that if you are not part of a meaningful local “we” here in Esbjerg, you will never feel at home here. Nature fosters a sense of connectedness. This is why all the activities in The Female Connection depart from our unique local nature.

We open up the local nature for all the women making them part of the Wadden Sea, part of Esbjerg and part of a strong embracive community. Making them feel at home in Esbjerg.

A shipwreck underwater.
Barbara and Liselotte lying on the sand.

Vision of The Female Connection

We envision Esbjerg as a welcoming and vibrant international community where the connections between local and international women are at the heart of its identity. Our ultimate aim is to redefine Esbjerg’s narrative, shifting away from outdated perceptions of it as a very masculine city with a technical monoculture to become an inclusive and lively community.

Through establishing a nurturing, lasting network, we seek to create a sense of belonging for women from diverse backgrounds. Drawing inspiration from the exceptional nature of the Wadden Sea surrounding Esbjerg we foster shared experiences, mutual support, and collaborative initiatives.


We aspire to transform Esbjerg into a place where every woman feels genuinely at home, not only within the community of women but also in harmony with the city’s natural environment.

The Problem    |    Women    |    Nature    |     ESG

Promoting Social Sustainability within ESG Frameworks

The mission of The Female Connection seamlessly aligns with the growing ESG reporting standards, particularly in the area of Social Sustainability.

Defining Social Sustainability

Social Sustainability is defined by Danish Industry (DI) as:

“Social sustainability is about developing and sustaining a good and safe society, where people have the opportunity to develop and be a part of the local community. This implies the strengthening of democracy and human rights, further health and education and secure cultural diversity and identity.”

Susanne Ekmann, a lecturer at the Institute for Humans and Technology, University of Roskilde, emphasizes the integral role of Human Resources (HR) within social sustainability, viewing humans as a sustainable resource that thrives in meaningful relationships:

“HR is about seeing humans as fuel. Human resources, HR, is created and nurtured in something relational. Humans can be a highly sustainable resource: Put in meaningful relationships humans are a resource that recharges themselves by using themselves.”

Inclusion and Diversity

Denmark faces the dual challenge of attracting and retaining (international) skilled workers while grappling with the perception that it is one of the most challenging countries globally to form local friendships. The resulting loneliness, particularly affecting the female members of arriving families, often prompts a fast departure from Esbjerg.

The paradox lies in the fact that the biggest obstacle to social sustainability for businesses in Esbjerg is found within the private sphere – an area beyond the direct influence of these companies.

what is ESG?

The Unique Role of
The Female Connection


The Female Connection steps into this private sphere, addressing the fundamental loneliness experienced by many living without local friendships.

The mission of the organization centers around building nurturing and meaningful relationships between international and local women, thereby contributing to social sustainability in the broader community.

Focus on ESG Standards

In alignment with ESG standards, The Female Connection targets the qualitative aspects of the following social sustainability standards:

ESCR S1: Own Workforce

Many internationals live in parallel hubs where they only connect to other internationals.

This sense of disconnection from the local communities significantly contributes to a notable workforce turnover, as employees often leave Esbjerg in search of more enriching social opportunities elsewhere.

By cultivating a network that encourages meaningful relationships, the prevailing loneliness is alleviated, motivating individuals to stay in Esbjerg.

This change in the private sphere positively influences workforce stability, ensuring continuity by retaining existing talent and promoting a cohesive environment.

ESCR S3: Affected Communities

The energy sector is the mayor driver in the development of Esbjerg, so it has a big impact on many aspects of local daily life. It depends on and brings in a lot of newcomers to Esbjerg. Among these newcomers, international families represent a huge local community, that today is largely parallel to the local community.

The mission of TFC is to use the local nature to bring these parallel communities together. This is achieved by focusing on the local and international women, ultimately contributing to the well-being of Esbjerg.

ESCR S4: Consumers and End-Users

In the energy sector, the global population serves as the end-users. The Female Connection acts as a local organization representing women in Esbjerg, that aligns all its activities with the local environment. Sponsoring The Female Connection, therefore, signifies a meaningful dialogue with a relevant consumer organization.

A shipwreck underwater.

Transparency and Accountability

The Female Connection commits to transparency by providing annual reports on its progress. GOLD sponsors gain access to evaluations, developed in collaboration with Enact:lab, covering various categories, including the ones mentioned above.

This commitment reinforces the organization’s dedication to accountability and continual improvement in advancing social sustainability.

Stay connected with TFC!

We look forward to welcoming you to The Female Connection.
Together, let’s create lasting connections and unforgettable experiences!

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