Definition of Youth

The Belize National Youth Development Policy defines youth as an individual between the ages 15-29 years old, “who has passed through the dependent stage of childhood and transitioning from adolescence to adult maturity”.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 9-12 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 9 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  CRC/C/65/Add.29

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • -- Male (15-24) %
  • -- Female (15-24) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 70.24%Male %
  • 74.52% 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) %
  • 21.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 15.30% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The government of Belize launched a new national youth development policy in early 2013.

Belize’s national youth policy centres on three primary goals that focus on: (1) empowering and supporting young people to achieve optimal well-being; (2) ensuring policies and frameworks are “multi-sectoral, coordinated, cohesive and resourced”, and; (3) creating an “optimal ecology” of home, school and community that allows young people to grow up to be  “healthy, caring and responsible”. The policy also describes the creation of a National Youth Commission, which would be an autonomous body that would enhance coordination between different ministries, departments, and between civil society, private sector and youth. It also describes the development of a National Plan of Action comprised of key standards and indicators, however at the time of this publication, no plan has been released.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is the national agency responsible for youth. Within the Ministry resides the Department of Youth Services, which lists three core units that are aligned with the Pan-Commonwealth Youth for the Future initiative:
  • Enterprise: supports and fosters job creation, youth entrepreneurship and productivity
  • Sexual Reproductive Health: promoting positive choices in sexual behaviour

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
In June 2012, Youth-IN reported that the Department of Youth Services held a meeting of student council representatives nation-wide to begin the development of a National Youth Council of Belize. In February 2013, as reported by Plus TV, Minster of State for Youth and Sports Herman Longsworth reiterated that a youth council “will be formed” and would be responsible for holding the government accountable on youth issues. At the time of publication of this Fact Sheet, there is no indication that a youth council has been created.

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 Belize’s Approved Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for Fiscal Year 2013/2014, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has an approved capital expenditure of BZD 4 million (USD 2 million). However it is unclear how much of this amount is dedicated specifically to youth. According to the World Bank, Belize spent 6.56% of its GDP on education in 2010, but does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage of government expenditure.
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 the National Youth Development Policy (2013):

According to recently released data from the 2010 Census young people 15-24 represent just over 20% of the population with no significant differences in the percentage of male and female youth 15-24 years old. Although comprehensive data on youth 15-29 is not available in the preliminary findings of the 2010 Census, the population pyramid clearly indicates a very youthful population in Belize [...]

The Sexual Behaviour Study revealed that over 50% of young people (15-24 years) reportedly had already had a sexual experience. 18.4% reported the age of their first sexual intercourse as less than 15 years old. In 2009, young people 15-24 years of age accounted for 18.6 % of new HIV infections. Persons 15-49 accounted for 82.2% of new infections. However, given the level of disaggregation, it is impossible to determine the exact percentage of young people 15-29 infected with HIV.

The Sexual Behaviour Survey (SBS) strongly confirms that there is a strong culture of risk taking among young people. For example, the SBS reports that young men (20-24) reported having multiple partners at higher rates than other age groups. In the total sampled population young men were three times as likely to have more than one sexual partner when compared to women. Of the men and women aged 15-49 who reported having sex with more than one partner in the last 12 months, 63.1% of them also reported using a condom the last time they had sex. Females aged 25-49 who had more than one partner were least likely to report the use of a condom the last time they had sex, while young men aged 15-19 were most likely to report the use of a condom the last time they had sex.