Definition of Youth

Benin’s national youth policy defines youth as those aged between 12 and 35.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Minimum legal ages at marriage may vary across states/provinces, ethnic groups, religious groups or forms of marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  UNICEF

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 62.58% Male (15-24) %
  • 42.50% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 25.36%Male %
  • 12.02% 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) %
  • 14.60% Male (13-15) %
  • 5.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy was adopted in 2001. An assessment report was published in 2011.

The national youth policy of Benin of 2001 aims to provide young people with opportunities to fully develop their physical, mental and moral faculties. The main purpose of the policy is to create favourable conditions for the inclusion of youth in all sectors of society and to become actors of sustainable development. The policy promotes the principles of commitment, solidarity, autonomy, responsibility, respect, citizenship, democracy, tolerance, equality of sexes, justice, peace, intercultural understanding, humanity, environmental protection and sustainable development. The policy foresees the creation of the High Council on Youth of Benin (CSJB) to define the guidelines of national youth policy, monitor and evaluate its implementation.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Recreation is the lead ministry with regards to youth affairs. It supports youth civic participation, training and financial support to youth entrepreneurs, and establishing of youth centres. The Ministry of Mircofinance, Youth and Women Employment is responsible for youth employment activities.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
An advisory body for youth (OCJ) was established by Law No. 91-007 in 1991.  The OCJ is the umbrella structure of youth organisations of Benin and deemed to represent their interests.

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 World Bank, Benin spent 27.75% of its government expenditure and 5.35% 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 the national youth policy (2001). Original in French, own translation:

Young people below the age of 15 represent nearly 50 % of the population of Benin. And young people between 15 and 35 represent 30 % of the populace.

The demographic weight of the young represents an inescapable part of development. However, regrettably few investments are intended directly to youth. It is clear that the demographic pressure of youth can be a handicap for development if we do not manage to channel and direct the energies of the youth. Youth can be a constraint, but the youth factor also represents an undeniable asset to any company that wants to develop. Indeed, youth educated, enterprising, responsible and autonomous, is an important lever of development. ...This National Youth Policy considers youth an asset that must be valued and mobilised.

From the Youth Assessment Report (2011):

According to a study by UNICEF in 2006, there are approximately 700,000 out-of-school youth between the ages of 10-17 who have never been to school or dropped out prior to completing primary education, equal to 46% of the total population of children at this age.

While significant investment over the past several years increased access to primary education, specifically targeting girls, resulting in increased enrolment rates, young people continue to drop out-of-school throughout the system and many prior to completing primary school. According to Ministry of Maternal and Primary Education data from 2009-2010, the primary completion rate was only 64%, with an annual dropout rate of 10.72%.

The economic reality in which parents depend largely on children to assist either with household work, cultivating family farms, or helping to sell produce or items in the market, is such that parents perceive school as something that takes their children away from more valuable family income-generating activities. Particularly, girls are affected adversely by this situation because of the central role they play in most of the families’ housework.

Older out-of-school youth consistently articulate the necessity of making money to support themselves as well as their parents. This reality shapes their decisions and their visions for the future. Once out of formal school, youth gravitate toward trades and trainings that either offer perceived rapid opportunities for making money, or that are already familiar to them.

Given an youth literacy rate of just 55 % and the many problems in the field of youth un- and underemployment highlighted in the Youth Assessment Report it seems irritating that the first priority theme of the national youth policy is a quality succession in sports. There are other themes too, but they are all listed after sports. According to the national youth policy the members of the High Council on Youth of Benin (CSJB) are the ministries concerned with youth affairs, other institutions of the state, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber of Agriculture and development partners in the field. Delegations of young people and the advisory body on youth (OCJ), as well as other representatives of civil society are also members. The CSJB is under the authority of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Recreation. As the earlier National Youth Council (founded by degree No 91-275 of December 17 1991) representatives of young people, including representatives of the OCJ are outnumbered by members of public institutions.