Definition of Youth

The national youth policy of the Gambia defines youth as those aged 15 to 30. However, the policy is designed with flexibility to relate to young people aged between 10 and 39 depending on the policy area.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 0
  • 0
  • XX
  • Female
  • 0
  • 0
  • XX

  • No minimum age for marriage. Constitution (1997) states “[m]en and women of full age and capacity shall have the right to marry”. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  The African Child Policy Forum

Majority Age


Source: Children’s Act (2005)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 75.55% Male (15-24) %
  • 70.84% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

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) %
  • 34.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 36.60% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Gambia renews its national youth policy every ten years. The most recent one was adopted in 2009.

The National Youth Policy is the guiding instrument for the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) and its partners. It focuses on eleven themes including socio-cultural development, economic development and employment, and education. The Government of the Gambia committed to securing the resources required to deliver the policy from international partners and the national budget. In 2008, the Gambia signed the African Youth Charter. A Children’s Act from 2005 brings together all laws relating to children and sets out their rights and responsibilities. The national development strategy emphasises commitment to the National Youth Service Scheme and the National Youth Council. A Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (2012) outlines policy initiatives designed to promote youth employment.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) is responsible for the overall administration, development, promotion and regulation of youth and sports policy. Its mission is to deliver excellence in youth and sports development through entrepreneurship, employability leadership and participation in sports. The MOYS has implementation agencies including the Department of Youth and Sports, National Youth Service Scheme, and the National Youth Council. The MOYS strategic plan 2010-2014 outlines nine priority goals and an action plan for achieving these.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council (NYC) describes itself as an autonomous body. Its composition, functions and structure are aligned to the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS). The NYC was set up in 2000 following an act of parliament, to advise the Gambian government on youth matters. The MOYS website states that the NYC aims to mobilise and organise youth for their empowerment and transformation into productive citizens, able to contribute to national development. The Daily Observer (2013) reports that the NYC includes representatives from regional youth committees.

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?
No documentation on the budget for youth in The Gambia could be found online. According to the World Bank, the Gambia spent 21.26% of its government expenditure and 4.07% of its GDP on education provision in 2012.
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 Policies, Programmes and Projects for the Promotion of Labour Participation of Young People in Ecuador (2005) Original in Spanish, own translation:
27.7 % of Ecuador's population is young - with young defined as between 18 and 29 years old... The significance of youth in national demography, demands greater political will for the development of public policies aimed at youth. Access to the labour market is an area of particular importance to young people. Labour market access for large groups of youth is hampered by poor or inadequate education and skills, as well as lack of work experience. In particular young people in poverty, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, disabled, women and sexual minorities face discrimination in the labour market.
...These problems affecting youth [demand for skilled labour, impact of trade liberalization, expansion of the wage gap between skilled and unskilled, casualisation of labour relations] have not received an effective response from public institutions related to young people, employment policies or the labor market. The weakness of our institutions, and the lack of coordination between them contribute to an absence of policies, programs and projects for this segment of the population.
From Youth Employment and Migration – Country Brief: Ecuador (2013):
The issue for young Ecuadorians is not only access to employment but also access to decent work. The jobs they occupy are often low skilled and their employment conditions temporary and precarious. In 2010, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 29 was 9.8 per cent, but their under-employment rate reached 54.9 per cent.
Ecuadorian out-migration flows jumped in the wake of the economic crisis that impacted the country at the end of the 1990s. More than half of the Ecuadorians that have left the country in the past decade are young people between the ages of 15 and 29. They represented 57.7 per cent of migrants according to the latest living conditions survey carried out by the Ecuadorian Institute of Statistics.