Definition of Youth

The Mauritanian national youth policy (2004) defines youth as between 12-30 years.


Marriageable Age

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

  • According to the UNCRC report (2008), marriage is “subject to consent, except in cases determined by a judicial decision”. Homosexual acts illegal, with punishment being death by public stoning. Source: UNSD, ILGA, UN Child Rights Periodic Report (2008)

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Between 7-15 years, children "may be sentenced only to measures of protection." Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 70.04% Male (15-24) %
  • 54.98% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 15.31%Male %
  • 13.52% 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) %
  • 27.50% Male (13-15) %
  • 17.70% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Mauritania has a national youth strategy and policy from 2004 and is being supported to define a new youth policy. .

The national youth policy (2004) aims to promote youth development within the framework of national values. It has five strategic priorities: 1) Developing a legal framework of the youth sector; 2) Capacity-building of administrative structures; 3) Promoting youth employment and socio-economic integration; 4) Promoting cultural activities, recreation and leisure; 5) Advocacy and protection of young people and adolescents.  This includes themes such as youth participation, social inclusion, entrepreneurship, reproductive health, peace and democracy. A 2006 version of the youth policy, states that it is valid between 2004-2010. According to an article on 14 May 2013, UNFPA have supported the Government of Mauritania in defining a national youth policy, however no revised or new policy can be found online.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Directorate of Youth Development within the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport is responsible for youth affairs, with the mandate to “design, implement, monitor and evaluate national policies” in the field of youth. This includes support for youth participation, international cooperation, civic engagement, economic inclusion, youth activities, and capacity-building and networking with youth organisations and associations. The Cabinet Minister is supported by a “Technical Advisor for Youth”, with regional ministry offices around the country.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The national youth policy (2004) notes that the National Council of Youth and Sports has been inactive since its creation, and should be revised. The policy outlines the creation of a new youth council, separated from sport, which should include wider representation from youth associations, and regional and departmental youth councils. However, no online presence for the council could be found, nor mention in any future documents or on the Ministry website. The website has a page on “Youth Forums” under the Events section, however the page is currently blank.

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 Mauritania could be found online. According to the World Bank, Mauritania spent 12.99% of its government expenditure and 3.69% 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

According to Status Report – Adolescents and young people in Sub-Saharan Africa, Opportunities and Challenges (2012): Population
In 2010, 32 per cent of Mauritania’s population of 3.5 million consisted of young people between 10 and 24 years of age. The number of young people is projected to increase to 1.5 million by 2025 and to 1.9 million by 2050.
Compared to other countries in the region, progression to secondary education is low: Thirty-eight per cent of male adolescents progress from primary to secondary school; 31 per cent of females advance. In addition, many adolescents do not go on to complete their secondary education. Forty-eight per cent of adolescents of lower secondary-school age do not attend school. To ensure individuals, communities, and countries can reap the social and economic benefits of increased access to education, more efforts must be directed towards improving school retention and completion rates.
Fifty-seven per cent of young men aged 15 to 24 are looking for or have a job in Mauritania; only 22 per cent of young women participate in the labour force—the lowest rate in the region. This disparity may reflect cultural attitudes that encourage women to stay in the home and limit their role in society and public life.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights
In Mauritania, 35 per cent of young women aged 20 to 24 were married by age 18. Early childbearing is relatively high with 7 per cent of female adolescents aged 15 to 19 giving birth each year.
Gender equality and social protection
Child labour is low with 18 per cent of children aged 5 to 14 involved in child labour, which includes economic activity or household chores such as cooking, cleaning or caring for children. Sixty-nine per cent of young women aged 20 to 24 have undergone the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, one of the higher rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
HIV prevalence is low in Mauritania with 0.4 per cent of young men and 0.3 per cent of women aged 15 to 24 infected. More information is needed about young people’s attitudes and behaviour towards HIV to strengthen prevention efforts.