Definition of Youth

The National Youth Policy (2003) defines youth in Bangladesh as between 18-35 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • XX

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The Penal Code, approved in November 2004, increased Bangladesh's MACR from 7 to 9, and raised the doli incapax age range from 7-12 to 9-12. Source:  Penal Code of Bangladesh

Majority Age


Source: Age of Majority Act (1875)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 80.61% Male (15-24) %
  • 85.83% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 44.36%Male %
  • 51.28% 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) %
  • 9.10% Male (13-15) %
  • 5.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy of Bangladesh dates back to 2003, and is currently under revision.

The National Youth Policy (2003) aims to develop individuals who are creative, responsible citizens. It also aims to engage and involve youth in national development, and in the preservation of national heritage and culture.   Objectives include: Awareness of the constitution; Ability to fulfill jobs; Encouraging self-employment; Engagement in voluntary work; Participation in culture & sports; Collection of information on youth; Provision of youth facilities in rural areas; Equal participation in decision- making.   A review of the 2003 policy aims to include entrepreneurship and increased focus on participation in development in youth policy.   As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Bangladesh is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Department of Youth Development (DYD) aims to facilitate skills development training, employment and self-employment, and to involve youth in national development.   The DYD is the implementing agency of youth policy, and sits within the “guardianship” of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.   The DYD works to encourage self-development & employment, promote involvement in community and national development activities, support youth organisations, involve youth in socio-economic activities & empower youth to become self-employed through micro-credit schemes.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
While the National Federation of Youth Organisations in Bangladesh (NFYOB) describes itself as a coordinating council of youth organisations, their Facebook page is largely inactive and there is no other website. They are not a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council, and are not referenced in government reports or policies. As such, the status of the NFYOB as an active representative body is unclear.   In 2012 the British Youth Council worked with youth in Bangladesh to try to establish a national youth council. However, progress on this is unknown.

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?
The Annual Financial Statement 2013-2014 allocated BDT 7.1 billion (USD 91.4 million) to the Ministry of Youth and Sports but the proportion specifically for youth is unknown. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh spent 13.84% of its government expenditure and 2.23% of its GDP on education provision in 2009.
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 May 2014).

Additional Background

From Innovations in Civic Participation (ICIP) (No Date):
Despite official recognition of the role young people have played in Bangladesh’s independence movement, opportunities for their participation in the decision-making processes since then have often fallen short. Nevertheless two policy frameworks exist that could be harnessed to provide greater opportunities for Youth Civic Engagement – the National Youth Policy and a National Service Scheme.
The Bangladesh National Youth Policy (NYP) was passed in 2003 and, if fully implemented, could significantly expand the opportunities for young people to become socially, economically and politically engaged in Bangladesh. The policy identifies seven issues or areas it seeks to address, including education, employment, training, health, environment, amusement, and sports and games. Noticeably absent from this list is civic engagement. Nevertheless, among 14 objectives listed in the policy, several pertain explicitly to civic engagement. These include: fostering understanding and respect for democratic principles and social justice as enshrined in the constitution; motivation and encouragement of young people to participate in social development through voluntary organizations; assistance to youth organizations; and the encouragement of youth participation in all aspects of national development.
However, the policy lacks concrete steps for achieving these goals and has been plagued by a lack of implementation. The result has been continued “exclusion [of youth] from the democratic and development process at all levels.” The Ministry of Youth, Department of Youth Development, and National Youth Council are charged with reviewing and revising the policy every five years, although the institutional arrangements between these bodies, and their commitment to issues pertaining to youth development, are not clear.
From Youth Participation Through Civic Engagement: Mapping Assets in South Asia (2010):
[T]here are a number of important assets for youth development and civic engagement in Bangladesh. These include the Ministry of Youth, a National Youth Policy, local NGOs, student unions and a substantial INGO and donor presence. However, political instability and poverty remain major obstacles to a more robust youth civic engagement movement. As in Pakistan, investments in advocacy, campaigning and youth media – though important – may prove to be controversial and less effective in the short term.
However, investment in social and economic development programs that encourage civic engagement through voluntary service can help young people engage their local communities and effect real change. Opportunities for more formal long-term service will likely remain limited without substantial investment by the government in larger national youth service programs. Although the government is officially committed to promoting youth development and empowerment, international donors remain the primary providers of financial support to the NGO sector. Building on existing progress, further investment in programs focused on sectors such as information and communications technology training, environmental protection/climate change, disaster preparedness and relief, and poverty reduction can empower young people and advance the country’s economic, social, and political development. In addition, Bangladesh’s unique history of and experience with micro-finance could provide an exceptional laboratory for experimentation with new models of youth social entrepreneurship and civic engagement. By working together, the government, international donors, INGOs, community-based organisations and young people can mobilize existing assets and incorporate international best practices to leverage their overall impact on youth development through civic engagement.