“Girls and Boys Have Become the Toys of Everyone”: Interrogating the Drivers and Experiences of Adolescent


  • Yadete Workneh
  • Gezahegne Kiya
  • Jones Nicola
  • Presler-Marshall Elizabeth


Girls and Boys Have Become the Toys of Everyone


The recently adopted Global Compact for Migration (GCM) has a
strong focus on the rights of migrants. While the GCM is nonlegally
binding and its adoption has been heatedly contested, this
is an important historical moment to reflect on the status of some
of the most vulnerable migrants – adolescent girls and boys – and
the efforts that will be needed to fast-track social change and
ensure that they benefit from the ambitious targets of the GCM
and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This article
explores these issues through a case study on Ethiopia, where
migration—especially of young people—is already accelerating
and is poised for explosive growth in the coming years.
Drawing on qualitative data collected by the Gender and
Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) international research
programme, this article focuses on the ways in which adolescent
girls’ and boys’ multi-dimensional capabilities drive and are
shaped by migration. Our findings highlight that in many cases
Ethiopian adolescents are “choosing” to migrate because they
perceive no other viable options. Simultaneously pushed and
pulled into undertaking risky endeavours with limited
information, they often find themselves vulnerable to a range of
risks with very little support. To help mitigate those risks, and
help adolescents use migration to improve, rather than restrict,
their access to their human rights, our conclusions discuss a
number of key policy and programming entry points