Definition of Youth

Dominica’s national youth policy (2004) defines youth as between 15-30 years, but notes “the various definitions of young people that have already been legislated.”


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • 16
  • XX

  • Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Children aged 12-14 years are held in "training schools". Those over 14 years may be imprisoned. Source:  Children and Young Persons Act of Dominica

Majority Age


Source: Age of Majority Act (1983)

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 %
  • 79.16%Male %
  • 87.90% 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) %
  • 30.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 19.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy of Dominica was adopted in 2004. It is currently under review.

The mission of the national youth policy (2004) is “to create a framework that will ensure that young men and women in Dominica grow up with a sense of belonging and worth and are empowered to participate fully in the social and economic development of the nation.” The policy focuses on six areas: 1) Employment; 2) Education and Training; 3) Health; 4) Drugs, Violence and Crime; 5) Recreation, Physical Education, Sports and Culture; 6) Community and Social Responsibility. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Dominica is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015. It lists 13 action points for member nations, including youth empowerment, youth governance, participation, gender equality, education, health and ICT.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Youth Development Division within the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports is responsible for youth affairs including the national youth policy (2004). Its mission:

To provide efficient and effective services geared towards empowering young men and women to develop their unique potential, creativity and skills as productive and participating members of the society...

It delivers a number of programmes focusing on business skills, leadership, volunteerism and the environment. It runs youth centres and Youth Enterprise Centres across the country.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council of Dominica (NYCD) was formed in 1970 and according to the national youth policy (2004), is formed of elected representatives from youth organisations and groups across the country. It is mandated “to coordinate the plans and programmes of affiliated groups within eight designated youth districts.” It is considered an “equal partner and participant” in the policy process relating to young people in Dominica. Dominican youth are represented though the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and the Commonwealth Youth Council.

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?
XCD 1.87 million
USD 691,730
According to the 2012 - 2013 Budget for Ministries - Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the budget estimate for Youth Development programming for 2013/2014 was XCD 1.87 million (USD 691,730). The World Bank lists no data on public spending on education in Dominica for the last ten years.
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

The national youth policy (2004) provides a situation analysis for young people concerning the population, society and economy:

According to the 1991 Population census, the youth population, that is, those under 30 years make up 61.6% of the Dominican populace. Thirty percent (one third) of the population falls within the category defined by the policy as youth. Fifty-one percent of these are males and roughly 20% are school age but only about 50 – 60 % of these may be at school. The others have not been able to access secondary education because of the limited spaces available at this level.
Young people headed over three thousand households (3103) according to the 1991 population and housing census. Nearly ten thousand (9693) were employed which means that roughly 51% were either at school or unemployed. With 16% of these at schools of some sort, it can be safely said that at that time about 35% of the youth population were unemployed.
Social and economic profile
Dominica recorded a population decline in 1991. The results of the population and housing census conducted that year indicated that 74% of the population resides outside of Roseau. It also showed that Dominica’s population is relatively young with the highest number of males and females being in the 15-19 year age group.
The Dominican economy, like most Caribbean countries is developing. It is still unable to provide satisfactory levels of income, employment and other necessary prerequisites for desirable standards of living for the population. Its one crop economy and dependence is characterized by reliance on external sources of capital flows (direct foreign investment and aid), consumer and capital goods. Initiatives are being implemented towards a diversified economy with reduced dependence on bananas.
The earnings from bananas and other agricultural crops have declined from 42% in 1990 to 19% in 1997. During the same period manufacturing exports grew from 26% to 30% while tourism moved from 28% to 44% (Strategic Outlook, 1999/2000). Shifts in economic activities may have some implications for employment and migration, that is, rural to urban as mostly rural residents have cultivated bananas. Migration out of these rural communities necessitates adjustments to family and community relations as well as in the life of the young people involved since they have the greatest propensity to migrate. Some effort to include these considerations in development planning should be undertaken.
The distribution of unemployed labour force indicates that a substantial number of persons (50%) have no occupational training. Since 50% of young people make up the labour force it means a large number of young people particularly those in the rural areas are unemployed. In addition, about 13% of the young people are illiterate. This seems to indicate further that a fairly large number of youth are either unemployed or not in any specific employment. The duration of employment for young people is a source of concern. Sixty one percent of the unemployed have been without work for at least twelve months. Seventy-three percent of the women and about 51% of the men have not worked for over one year. This means that the Dominican youth may be among the poorest in the nation. The situation appears to be worse for young women and may be worst for young mothers. Very often this malaise of unemployment may be accompanied by drug use and violence, inadequate access to education, the absence of social and economic safety nets and health problems.
The youth falls within the most productive age group and many are at risk for early teen pregnancy as well as exposure to health risks such as sexually transmitted diseases, which include HIV/AIDS. While the national policy on health is based on the principle that each person has the right and access to the highest possible level of health care and health care services, the state of health of the Dominican youth population needs specific attention in areas such as adolescent health, drug, alcohol and tobacco use, nutrition and physical and sexual activity. About 23% of teens in Dominica have had at least one abortion.
Current issues
Today, unemployment and problems of sexual health still remain major issues and more so since the onset of HIV/AIDS in the latter part of the 1980s. This is compounded with problems of drug abuse and the shift in traditional values and thinking among youth brought on by the revolution in technology and the attending problems of globalisation.