Time to Look at Girls: Adolescent Girls Migration and Development

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



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 has been 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. 



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

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