Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2012) notes many differing definitions of youth within current Guatemalan legislation, but focuses the policy on for those aged 13-30 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • 14
  • --

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Criminal responsibility in the Civil Code (1996) is 18. Children 13-18 may be held in a youth institution. Source:  Childhood and Youth Protection Law of Guatemala

Majority Age


Source: Civil Code (1996)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 96.57% Male (15-24) %
  • 94.18% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 48.30%Male %
  • 44.54% 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) %
  • 19.70% Male (13-15) %
  • 13.30% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The current national youth policy covers 2012-2020, the previous one covered 2010-2015.

The national youth policy (2012-2020) replaces the previous national youth policy (2010-2015). Its vision is to “empower youth and build an inclusive, prosperous, democratic and equitable” country. The policy intends to “guide the activities, resources and efforts of the public sector, private agencies and youth organisations” affecting young people in Guatemala. It focuses on ten priority areas: Education; Work and Productivity; Health; Recreation, Culture & Sport; Violence Prevention; Housing; Environment; Gender Equality; Multiculturalism, and; Participation & Citizenship. A 2012-2016 action plan exists which sets the strategic framework for policy actions. It is not available online.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Youth Council (CONJUVE) is the “governing body of public youth policies” and coordinates youth affairs across government, national and international institutions and youth organisations. A “Youth Cabinet” comprised of representatives from each ministry exists for improved inter-ministerial coordination. Networks of regional and municipal youth offices exist for improved coordination of youth policy. The national youth policy (2010-2015) notes a “Secretary of Youth” but the presence and role of this post remains unclear.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Although the governmental ministry CONJUVE is named the “National Youth Council”, it is unclear what representative function it has and the extent to which young people are involved beyond the “development of youth networks. A “Youth Advisory Committee” is detailed in the national youth policy (2012-2020) as a space for young people and national youth organisations to engage in dialogue with the “Youth Cabinet” on the implementation of youth policies. Participation is one of the ten strategic priorities of the policy.

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?
GTQ 4.4 million
USD 573,290
According to the Approved budget for 2012, the budget for the National Youth Council (CONJUVE) in 2012 was GTQ 4.4 million (USD 573,290). According to the World Bank, Guatemala spent 21.13% of its government expenditure and 2.97% 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

According to the Guatemala mid-term summary review (2010), the country faces a number of challenges:
Guatemala is slowly moving away from a post-conflict stage, sharing common problems of Latin American transitional democracies, such as a fragile rule of law, weak institutions, corruption and organized crime, weak political parties, widespread poverty and deep income inequality.
At this stage, Guatemala is going through a crucial political phase in which the new administration led by President Alvaro Colom is striving to implement a rather ambitious plan centred on social cohesion policies, fight against violence, impunity, poverty and exclusion of indigenous peoples. In order to lay down the basis for financing such policies in a sustainable way and help the State to improve its "redistributive" prerogatives, President Colom envisaged a fiscal reform. However, this key initiative aimed at increasing social investments and the percentage of fiscal revenues on the GDP, has been the object of fierce opposition both from the private sector and various political forces in the Congress and is also affected by the impact of the global economic crisis.
More than 50% of population lives in poverty and 16% in extreme poverty, mainly indigenous people (73%) and rural zones (70%). Moreover, Guatemala has one of the highest GINI coefficient (0.55) in Latin. The youth situation is particularly relevant as they represent the large majority of the population. More than half live under poverty conditions, many are unemployed (52% of people between 15-29 years) or work for the informal sector, few follow secondary schools and juvenile delinquency is spreading among them. The assignation to social programs still remains one of the lowest in Latin America. The government has launched a package of new initiatives and programmes under the aegis of the Council for Social Cohesion.
The security situation has greatly deteriorated. This includes higher level of criminality, organized crime and a high rate (98%) of impunity. Discrimination against the indigenous population is still endemic in the society; human rights are threatened, in particular human rights defender. Violence against women continues to be a widespread problem. President Colom is engaged in reforming and purging the security forces, and its "National Accord on the Advancement of Security and Justice" was signed by political forces in April 2009. The UN-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was created in 2007 for two years mandate extended in 2009 to help national institutions investigate crimes related to clandestine groups and security forces having infiltrated the state. CICIG managed to consolidate its credibility and produce first tangible results.
Increase of the oil and food prices in 2007/2008 and the international financial and economic crisis had negative impacts on GDP growth, trade, tourism and FDI, as well as decreasing levels of remittances and employment losses.