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Global Migration Centre

Time to Look at Girls: Adolescent Girls Migration and Development

This research, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), has become a book;

Adolescent Girls' Migration in The Global South
Transitions into Adulthood

Authors: Grabska, Katarzyna, de Regt, Marina, del Franco, Nicoletta

Based on rich and in-depth case studies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sudan, the chapters reveal challenging gendered transitions surrounding the decisions, experiences and consequences of migration.  A powerful read.

Samantha Punch, Professor of Sociology, University of Stirling, UK


About the Project

What are the constraints and opportunies linked to migration for adolescent girls? How do they affect their capacity to choose and to act to determine their future opportunities?

This research, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), explored the links between migration of adolescent girls and development in the Global South through a holistic approach that contextualises adolescents’ and young women’s agency, choices and migration experiences in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sudan. The research fills an existing gap in knowledge about the reasons adolescent girls migrate and their aspirations and experiences. It provides insights into their agency and capacity to choose, their future opportunities, as well as constraints and how these are shaped contextually. The project feeds into the global campaign “Destination Unknown” recently launched by Terre des Hommes (TDH) who was a project partner. The research contributed to global policy debates by producing policy relevant analysis, data and recommendations.

Among other outcomes, a movie has been shot in Bangladesh and in Ethiopia to document migrant girls' lives in these two countries. Directed by a professional team, the documentary movie was funded by the University of Sussex, Terre des Hommes  and Feminist Review Trust.

The research team is grateful to Jacqueline Barrin, Terre de Ridder, Kakoli Saha, Ushree Barua, Rupa Strala Mollick, Mahmuda Mushina Bushra, Bably Akter, Tanisa, Khadija, Mim Akter, Eity, Hajera Akter Ananna, Felegebirhan Belesti, Arsema Solomon, Medareshaw Tafesse, Aynadis Yohannes, Kidist Temasgen Belay, Kidist Worku, Ruta Zekarias, Bisrat Solomon, Hibret Tesfay and Bana for their research assistance.

Project Team


  • Katarzyna Grabska, Project Coordinator
  • Alessandro Monsutti, Project Co-coordinator
  • Nicoletta Del Franco, Researcher
  • Marina de Regt, Researcher

Research Findings

Final comparative research report
The findings were presented during a Research & Policy Dialogue: Time to Look at Girls - Adolescent Girls Migration and Development, on Thursday 2 June, from 9:30-16:30. See the Programme of the event here

Executive Summary: Adolescent Girls Migration in Ethiopia // Presented in Addis Ababa // Read the full report here

Executive Summary: Adolescent Girls Migration in Bangladesh // Presented in Dhaka // Read the full report here

Executive Summary: Adolescent Girls Migration in Sudan // Conference in Khartoum // Read the full report here


Eritrean Migratory Trajectories of Adolescence in Khartoum: (Im)mobility,  Identities, and Social Media

Adolescent Girls' Migration in the Global South: Transitions into Adulthood
Katarzyna Grabska, Marina de Regt and Nicoletta Del Franco. Palgrave Studies on children and development, 2018

Katarzyna Grabska
In: S. Hale and G. Kadoda (eds), Networks of Knowledge Production in Sudan: Identities, Motilities, and Technology
Lexington Books, 2016

Gender, Home & Identity. Nuer Repatriation to Southern Sudan
Katarzyna Grabska
Martlesham: Boydell & Brewer, 2014


Documentary Film: 2 Girls

This film explores the circumstances, decision-making, experiences and consequences of migration for adolescent girls in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Breaking away from the dominant focus on girls as victims of trafficking, this film gives evidence of the resilience, creativity and agency of young migrants girls who faced with difficult choices. 

The film was directed by Marco Speroni (31 min).

A screening of the film was held at UNOG, Palais des Nations on Tuesday 15 November 2016 from 12:30-14:00.

The film (long version) was submitted and accepted to the following film festivals:

  • "RIFF Rome Independent Film Festival" (awarded the First Prize for the best Italian documentary)
  • Afro Film Festival “Ananse”, Colombia
  • Lisbon International Film Festival
  • 7th HumanDoc International Documentary Film Festival, Warsaw (awarded the Grand Prix for the best foreign film)

In April 2017, 2 Girls received an award for best documentary at the Tiburon International Film Festival, USA.