In Ethiopia many adolescent girls migrate from rural to urban areas and abroad to escape poverty, early marriage, marriage by abduction and looking for better life. People have always migrated as they seek better lives for themselves. This is true even for adolescent girls, who are on the move in ever greater numbers. Because of their age and sex, migrant girls are especially vulnerable to risks, such as exploitative employment.
Currently, significant number of adolescent girls and young women migrate from all corners of the country to Addis Ababa looking for job and/or with the intention of going abroad mainly to the Middle East.
The migrant adolescents and young female labor migrants are vulnerable to mistreatment and physical and sexual abuse and various Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) problems since they arrive without the necessary psychological and social preparation. Majority of them are uneducated and destitute with no means for personal support and they also face a multitude of challenges which endanger their lives and health conditions.
The Senk-Bet program—a partnership between the Nia Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation starting from January 01, 2014 works to improving the Lives of Vulnerable Migrant Girls and Young Women in Addis Ababa.
The program gathers girls in a safe location (Senk-Bet center) and provides training in basic and business development skill (BDS), establishing beneficiary income generation’s activity groups, and given a vocational skills (housekeeping, cooking & serving, special need caring, etc), Life skills & personality development, sexual and reproductive health, basic reading and writing and first aid skills in addition to the temporary shelter service.
The girls also receive referrals to social services, subsidized medical services, and material support such as books, pencils, sanitary pads, and soap.
We have established youth resource and documentation center at Senk-bet to provide the migrant and vulnerable girls and women with access to information on development, health, education, and current issues and build their capacity. Re-uniting with families, vocational training, referral service to local health facilities, job placement and facilitations has been and are being done as part of Senk-bet program.
Girls move to help and provide for their family’s needs, such as helping to pay for younger siblings’ school fees. A girl from Addis Ababa explained:
“I decided myself to leave and come here because I want to help my family because they are very poor.”
— Naima Hadim
Without support, girls can find themselves isolated or in circumstances that are dangerous, abusive, or economically exploitative. Preparing girls before they leave, protecting them along the way, and assisting them where they land will help ensure that they flourish. Their success will make greater prosperity possible for them, their families, their communities, and the world.