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Time to look at girls. adolescent girls migration and development

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Katarzyna Grabska
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We focus specifically on the changing dynamics of adolescent girls’ migration in the Horn of Africa, with particular attention to the movement of adolescent girls and young women from Ethiopia and Eritrea. In drawing on the experiences of adolescent girls and young women who migrate independently, this chapter shows that these groups are also active participants in the wider state and society transformation processes that are on the way in the region (see introduction this volume). It also emphasizes the need for recognition of the changing generational dynamics of internal and international migration in these countries.
Katarzyna Grabska
added 2 research items
This chapter contextualizes adolescent girls’ migration in the three countries: Bangladesh Ethiopia, and Sudan. In Ethiopia, rural girls migrate mainly to become domestic workers for (often distant) relatives, sometimes in exchange for education, but an increasing number now become sex workers. In the past few decades in Bangladesh, with the rise of the garment export industry, the number of girls migrating to Dhaka has rapidly increased, although there are no official statistics available. Another form of migration is that of Garo girls and women, an ethnic minority, who work predominantly in beauty parlours or as domestic workers for foreigners. Sudan hosts large numbers of adolescent girls from Eritrea and Ethiopia, both as migrants and as refugees. The chapter also discusses the economic, social and political contexts in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sudan and policies on migrants, refugees and migration. It presents the three cities: Dhaka, Addis Ababa and Khartoum, in order to set the scene for the analysis of girls’ migration experiences.
In the concluding chapter, we reflect on how the choice to migrate and the experiences of migration have affected the young migrants’ life trajectories and how they have intersected with their transition to adulthood. We conclude the theme of transitions focusing specifically on marriage and of alternative ways of becoming an adult woman that emerge in the context of migration. Second, we locate our conclusions in the discussion of how the gender order has had profound effects on the decision, experiences and consequences of migration for the girls and their families in the three case studies. In the chapter, we look specifically at social relations and at gender norms using a life-course and generational analysis. Finally, we conclude by reflecting on whether migration is a good option for girls.
Katarzyna Grabska
added 2 research items
Arsema’s narrative is central to this chapter. She migrated from Ethiopia to Sudan at the age of 16. Through the narratives of women who migrated as adolescent girls over the last 10–25 years as well as those who came more recently, the chapter presents findings related to sending remittances, supporting family members, investing in the future, and the impact on households and on the status of migrants in relation to their families. The chapter shows that the increasing participation of young girls in the labour market in their place of destination, their increasing contributions to household finances, even if minimal, have effects on gender and generational relations both within families and in societies at large. In the short term, the effects of migration on girls and their families are rather negative. Yet, one needs to also pay close attention to how migrants, refugees and their families conceptualize change. While positive changes might not be immediately visible, small steps of transformation do take place. This chapter locates the discussions in the literature on social transformations while paying specific attention to the emergence of translocal families.
The chapter starts with the story of Tsirite from Ethiopia, who navigates an adverse environment in Khartoum working as a live-in domestic for Sudanese families. It examines the sources of protection and support on which migrant and refugee girls can rely in the three countries. While adolescent migrant girls are clearly visible in the landscape in each of the capital cities, they are largely invisible for those planning and implementing development interventions. Government institutions have no particular policies focusing on migrant and refugee girls, and national and international organizations’ interventions rarely distinguish them as a distinct group. Girls rely mostly on informal sources of support, such as those offered by social and religious networks. They build social capital by supporting each other and sharing resources, housing, money and food. In this way, they are better able to protect themselves than those who have a very limited social network. The chapter contributes to the debates on translocal social protection and the role of young female migrants in creating safer environments for themselves and their families.
Katarzyna Grabska
added 2 research items
The introductory chapter presents the background of the research project on which the book is based and sets out its main theme. It explains the choice of the three case studies (Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sudan) and then moves on to the academic debates about gender, adolescence, transitions and migration. The chapter explains the importance of exploring the link between migratory choices and trajectories and adolescence as a phase in life in which critical transitions take place. The book takes a broader view of adolescence as a particular life phase and argues that contrary to approaches that confine adolescents (and children) to the passive position of incomplete human beings, who are in the process of being socialized into adult social roles, young people are active agents engaged in the construction of their social identities through on-going processes of negotiation within social relations. The chapter presents the main research questions and briefly introduces the remaining chapters of the book.
This book provides a nuanced, complex, comparative analysis of adolescent girls’ migration and mobility in the Global South. The stories and the narratives of migrant girls collected in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sudan guide the readers in drawing the contours of their lives on the move, a complex, fluid scenario of choices, constraints, setbacks, risks, aspirations and experiences in which internal or international migration plays a pivotal role. The main argument of the book is that migration of adolescent girls intersects with other important transitions in their lives, such as those related to education, work, marriage and childbearing, and that this affects their transition into adulthood in various ways. While migration is sometimes negative, it can also offer girls new and better opportunities with positive implications for their future lives. The book explores also how concepts of adolescence and adulthood for girls are being transformed in the context of migration.
Katarzyna Grabska
added a research item
Based on research funded by the Swiss Network of International Studies, Girl Effect Ethiopia, Terre des Hommes, University of Sussex, UK and the Feminist Review Trust. The increasing number of girls who move to cities is a momentous global change: Why are adolescent girls migrating and what happens to them? How are their families and close ones affected? What are the constraints and opportunities linked to migration for adolescent girls? Bangladesh and Ethiopia are two examples of countries where girls’ independent migration is on the rise. This film explores the circumstances, decision-making, experiences and consequences of migration for adolescent girls in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. It is based on a research project “Time to look at girls: adolescent girls’ migration and development” (January 2014-December 2015), that explores the links between migration of adolescent girls and economic, social and political factors that trigger their movements. It shows the agency and choices being made by adolescent girls in their diverse migration experiences. More migrants move within their own country or region than migrate to Northern countries. Bangladesh and Ethiopia have been experiencing increasing high rates of the migration of adolescent girls to work. In Bangladesh they are found for example in garment and other manufacturing industries; working as maids; or in beauty parlours. In Ethiopia, migrant girls are mainly escaping early marriages, seeking better living conditions, or aspiring to continue their education. Most of them take up paid work as maids or sex workers. The film is based on two parallel stories about the trajectories of migration of adolescent girls in Bangladesh and in Ethiopia. In Bangladesh, the film portrays Lota who is employed in garment factories. In Ethiopia, the documentary follows the live of Tigist, an internal migrant girls, who ends up in sex work. This beautifully shot film provides space for the powerful voices of the migrant girls who speak about their own circumstances, experiences, dreams for the future.