Definition of Youth

Ethiopia's national youth policy (2004) defines youth as those aged between 15-29.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • XX

  • No data for marriageable age with parental consent. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Criminal Code of Ethiopia

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 71.13% Male (15-24) %
  • 67.81% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 18.37%Male %
  • 11.22% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 9.90% Male (13-15) %
  • 4.90% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?

The national youth policy of Ethiopia was adopted in 2004. An online summary is available.

The national youth policy (2004) aims to enable youth to participate, in an organised manner, in the process of building a democratic system, good governance and development endeavours. The policy seeks to,

...ensure that youth become citizens with democratic outlook, professional competence, skill and ethics so that they can actively, efficiently and widely participate in, and benefit from the country's on-going activities that are aimed at attaining a democratic system and accelerated development.

The major elements of the youth policy are: Youth, democracy and good governance; Youth and economic development; Youth and education; Youth and health; Youth and HIV AIDS; Youth and social evils; Youth, culture, sport and entertainment; Youth and environmental protection; and Vulnerable youth.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) was established in 2001. Its vision is "the creation of youth with rounded personality, transforming Ethiopia from backwardness and poverty into prosperity and democratic society." The MYSC’s mission is to

create youth that are mentally and physically developed; that know and respect the cultural values of their people, and that are proud of their country. It aims to encourage youth to be creative, industrious, internationally competent, and empowered to participate in the development and democratisation of Ethiopia.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Established in 2009, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front Youth League, (the Ethiopia Youth League) is the youth wing of the ruling four-party coalition government - the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Youth League has 1.25 million members and “is ready to implement programmes and objectives of the EPRDF.” However, the representative nature and the extent to which young people play an active leadership role within the Youth League remains unclear.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
According to the Federal Government Budget Proclamation, the budget for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in 2006 was ETB 26.2 million (USD 1.4 million). However, it is unknown what proportion of this spending was allocated to youth affairs. Further spending was allocated to Women and Youth Issues Mainstreaming (ETB 2.4 million / USD 124,000), Women & Youth Issues Awareness and Mobilisation (ETB 4.1 million / USD 214,000) and the Ethiopian Youth Sports Academy (ETB 21.5 million / USD 1.1 million). According to the World Bank, Ethiopia spent 25.37% of its government expenditure and 4.69% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From Youth Unemployment: Ethiopia Country Study (2012):
Ethiopian youth have lower participation and employment rates, and higher unemployment and informal sector employment rates than the country average. This is true for both rural and urban areas of the country. In 2005, 79 per cent of Ethiopian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 participated in the labour market; including youth up to the age of 29, their participation rate was 82 per cent.
...the labour market for male and female Ethiopian youth drastically differ from each other... [In 1999] Male youth had an employment to population ratio of 83 per cent and an unemployment rate of 4 per cent, compared to the employment to population ratio for female youth of 71 per cent and an unemployment rate of 11 per cent.
From Child Labor and Youth Employment: Ethiopia Country Study (2007),
Education attainment in Ethiopia is very low; the average male adult has completed 1.8 grades, the average female just 0.88 grades, and only 5% of the population has secondary or higher education...But a major government effort in recent years has led to significant progress in terms of expanding education coverage. During the period from 1995 to 2003, the primary gross enrolment ratio more than doubled, from 26% to 64%, while secondary gross enrolment almost tripled, from 7% to 19%.
Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of child labour in the world. One-half of all 5- to 14-year-olds, more than 7.5 million children in absolute terms, were at work in economic activity in the 2001 reference year.
From Ethiopia: Building on Progress – A Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (2006),
In Ethiopia underemployment and unemployment -especially in urban areas, and among the youth- are serious challenges. Creating employment and income-earning opportunities in the modern sector, the informal sector, and on farms is thus central to the effort to accelerate growth.
From Bringing Youth-Friendly Services to Scale in Ethiopia (2012) by Pathfinder International,
In 2005, nearly half (49.2 per cent) of Ethiopian women aged 20-24 were married by age 18, and 46 per cent had given birth by age 20. With 104 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, Ethiopia’s high adolescent birth rate was likely associated with the low use of modern contraceptives. Only 12.4 per cent of youth aged 15-24 were using a modern contraceptive method, and 29 per cent of sexually experienced women aged 15-24 had an unmet need for contraception. Young people, particularly young women, were also among the most vulnerable to HIV infection, with one and a half per cent of young women aged 15-24 living with HIV in 2007, compared to a half of a per cent of young men the same age. Just 20 per cent of young women and 33 per cent of young men aged 15-24 had comprehensive knowledge of HIV and its transmission.