Definition of Youth

The 2013 youth policy defines youth as between 10-35 years, noting that “the definition is quite flexible bearing in mind the variety of parameters that could be used in categorising youth”.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Same age for opposite sex marriage, with or without parental consent. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Between the ages of 10 - 14, the state must prove criminal capacity. Source:  The African Child Policy Forum
(No date)

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 74.92% Male (15-24) %
  • 75.20% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 30.35%Male %
  • 28.70% 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) %
  • 16.70% Male (13-15) %
  • 11.40% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Malawi adopted a new youth policy in August 2013, after pressure to review its 1996 policy.

The vision of Malawi’s 2013 youth policy is “an educated, healthy, well trained, cultured, vibrant and productive youth”. It has nine objectives, including:  

  • Provide guidance on minimum standards for the design of youth programmes;
  • Guide the allocation and use of resources (financial, human, and material);
  • Mainstream gender equity and equality in all youth programmes;
  • Provide guidelines for monitoring and evaluation and ensuring youth are included as active participants.
It lists seven priority areas, such as economic empowerment, education, health and nutrition, participation and leadership. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ghana is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015.  

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
As described in the 2013 youth policy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (previously called the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports) is the lead government agency responsible for youth. Its mandate includes providing direction to all stakeholders (governmental and others) on mainstreaming youth in national development, capacity-building of youth workers, and maintaining the Youth and Sports Management Information System (YOSMIS), a repository of youth-related information in the country. It is also responsible for formulating and reviewing the youth policy.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Act No. 22 of 1996 established the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCoM). The 2013 youth policy states that its main function is “to contribute towards youth empowerment and development through the promotion and coordination of activities of youth organisations”. NYCoM is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

The Youth Consultative Forum (YCF) is a confederation of youth organisations in Malawi. As reported in the Malawi Voice, in June 2013 the group petitioned the National Assembly to review the outdated 1996 youth 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?
While the Ministry of Finance for Malawi has information relating to its national budget, specific figures on youth budget could not be ascertained. According to the World Bank, Malawi spent 14.92% of its government expenditure and 5.35% of its GDP on education provision in 2011.
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 May 2014).

Additional Background

From Harmonisation of Children’s Laws in Malawi (2012):  
Malawi is a democracy governed by a Constitution. Adopted in 1994, the Constitution contains a Bill of Rights. Chapter IV of the Constitution, which is the Bill of Rights, guarantees human rights to “every person” which includes children. The Malawian Constitution protects the specific rights of children in sections 23 and 42(2) (g). As the supreme law of the land, any law that contravenes the Constitution shall be declared void.
The Constitution clearly provides a clear outline of the status of international law within the domestic legal system. Therefore, while international agreements that were ratified by Malawi are considered to be part of the domestic law of Malawi, those agreements that are ratified after 1994 are required to be domesticated by an Act of Parliament for it to be part of Malawi’s law. Customary international law too is considered to form part of the law of Malawi.
Malawi is a State Party to a number of human rights instruments among which are the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the two Optional Protocols and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
Until recently, Malawi’s children’s rights framework was characterized by a list of archaic laws. However, in 2010, Parliament passed the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010, which overhauled the child rights law framework in the country and replace a number of laws, such as the Children and Young Persons Act.