Definition of Youth

Colombia’s national youth policy (2005) defines youth as individuals between 14-26 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 14
  • ++
  • Female
  • 18
  • 14
  • ++

  • Civil unions/partnerships legal. A constitutional court ruling recognised same-sex couples and gave a legislation deadline before all marriage rights would automatically be granted. This lapsed in 2013. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Juvenile Penal Code of Colombia

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.23% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.10% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 70.77%Male %
  • 76.56% 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) %
  • 27.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 27.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Colombia has a national youth policy covering 2005-2015 and a youth law from 2013.

The national youth policy (2005) is the basis for a Ten-Year Plan for Youth (2005-2015). While the policy “sets out the commitments and tasks of the National Government”, the Ten-Year Plan reflects current priorities. The national youth policy (2005) has three main objectives:

  1. Youth participation in public life;
  2. Access to good public services;
  3. Broadening of social, economic and cultural opportunities.
The Youth Citizenship Act (2013) provides an “institutional framework” covering citizenship, domestic and internationally recognised human rights, public policies affecting young people and youth participation in the “social, economic, cultural and democratic life of the country.”

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
According to the national youth policy (2005), the National System of Youth (SNJ), “is the set of institutions, organizations, entities and individuals that…work with and for the benefit of young people.” Colombia Youth is the governing body of the SNJ and is “designed to ensure the full exercise of youth citizenship.” Working with civil society, youth organisations and institutions it liaises with national and local governments to support the coordination, implementation and monitoring of policies affecting young people.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Youth Citizenship Act (2013) establishes district, municipal and departmental (regional) youth councils. The Law details that the national youth council should be created within 150 days following the election of Departmental Youth Councils. While a map on the Colombia Youth website shows numerous district, municipal and departmental youth councils established, it does not seem as if a national youth council has been created. Colombia Youth is tasked with engaging with youth organisations in relation to youth and public policy.

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?
COP 1.4 billion
USD 734,782
The total amount of COP 1.4 billion (USD 734,782) is based on the combined funding allocated in the Regional Investment Budget 2014 to each of the 33 departments in Colombia under the heading “Colombia Youth”. According to the World Bank, Colombia spent 14.9% of its government expenditure on education provision in 2008, and 4.4% of its GDP in 2011.
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

According to the national youth policy (2005), the youth population is gradually decreasing:

Colombia 's total population increased from 34.9 million in the year 1990 to 45,300,000 in 2004 and projected to be 53.1 million in 2015. In the same years, the youth population - of between 10 and 29 years – grew from 14.5 million in 1990 to 16,800,000 in 2004 and projected to be 18.4 million in 2005. This shows that, although the trend is towards population growth, their relative weight with respect to the total population is going to gradually decrease: 41.47 % in 1990, 37.17% in 2004 and 34.6 % 2015.