Time to look at girls: Migrants in Bangladesh and Ethiopia

Key information

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Brunei Gallery

About this event

Dr Nicoletta Del Franco (PhD Development Studies), Dr Marina de Regt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Dr Katarzyna Grabska (Global Migration Centre at IHEID, Geneva), Felegebirhan Belesti (SOAS)

Produced and researched by: Katarzyna Grabska, Nicoletta Del Franco, Marina de Regt and Felegebirhan Belesti

Directed by: Marco Speroni, 31 min

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 four parallel stories about the trajectories of migration of adolescent girls in Bangladesh and in Ethiopia. In Bangladesh, the film portrays Lota and Sharmeen who are employed in garment factories. In Ethiopia, the documentary follows the lives of Tigist and Helen, two internal migrant girls, who end 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.

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.

View the film trailer at Vimeo website

About the speakers

Nicoletta Del Franco (PhD Development Studies) is a researcher and development consultant with extensive experience of qualitative research in South Asia (rural and urban Bangladesh in particular) with a focus on class and gender relations; young people and adolescence, the transition to adulthood; education and life aspirations; internal and overseas migration.

Marina de Regt is assistant professor at the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is a social anthropologist who has worked on issued related to domestic work and migration in Yemen and Ethiopia.

Katarzyna Grabska (PhD) is a social anthropologist currently a research fellow in the Global Migration Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. She is a principal researcher for the Swiss Network of International Studies funded project entitled “Time to look at girls: adolescent girls’ migration”, with fieldwork in Sudan.

Felegebirhan Belesti has a Masters in Human Rights from Addis Ababa University and is currently doing his Master Migration, Mobility and Development at SOAS. He worked as a consultant on various research projects about migration in Ethiopia, including the adolescent girls migration project.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Contact email: cb92@soas.ac.uk