Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2004) of Nicaragua defines youth as between 18-30 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • 15
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • 14
  • --

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Between 13-18, children are subject to educational measures, however those 15-18 may be imprisoned. Source:  Childood and Adolescents Code of Nicaragua

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 89.65% Male (15-24) %
  • 93.61% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 42.42%Male %
  • 48.54% 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) %
  • 30.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 20.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Nicaragua adopted its current national youth policy in 2004. It is valid for the period 2005-2015.

The national youth policy (2004) aims “to improve the quality of life of youth, social inclusion, the acquisition of their emancipation, the development of potential and contribution to the advancement of the country.”

The policy outlines priorities areas under six key objectives: Employability; Education; Health; Participation; Culture & Sports; Prevention of Violence. The guiding principles of the policy are youth participation, gender equality, equity & rights, and intergenerational relations.

The 2014 policy is closely integrated with the National Development Plan 2012-2016 which focuses on economic development, employment, enterprise and technology. It contains specific policies for young people focusing on social mobility, employment & enterprise, and rights & responsibilities.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth (website currently unavailable) was created in 2013, and according to an article on 21 February 2013, absorbed responsibility for youth affairs from the Youth Institute (INJUVE). Its functions are listed as including recreation, culture, education, health, entrepreneurship and youth participation.

A National Commission on Youth (CNJ) was established in a 2003 law as an inter-agency body, and is noted as being responsible for the implementation of the national youth policy (2004). However, the current status of the CNJ is unknown.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council of Nicaragua (CJN) is described as the representative body for Nicaraguan youth. Established in 1992 by Law No. 392 (Article 23), CJN is mandated to work with municipal and regional councils and to represent NGOs working with youth. Representatives from the council are also members of the National Commission on Youth, which was consulted in the creation of the national youth policy (2004). The CJN’s website contains recent posts, as does the official Facebook Page, but there is limited information about CNJ’s current activities.

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?
NIO 25.3 million
USD 932,083
According to the 2014 Budget, the total budget for the Ministry of Youth (website currently unavailable) is NIO 25.3 million (USD 932,083). According to the World Bank, Nicaragua spent 26.41% of its government expenditure and 4.57% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
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 press release on 7 December 2011 for the UNDP report, National Report on Human Development 2011: The young people building Nicaragua, provides a useful situation analysis for youth:
More than 62 percent of young Nicaraguans are optimistic about their future despite high levels of unemployment, poverty, and violence, according to a recently published UNDP report titled "National Report on Human Development 2011: The young people building Nicaragua."
The report analyzes the status of adolescents (aged 13 to 17) and young adults (aged 18 to 29). It states that 40 percent of young Nicaraguans are unemployed or work in the informal sector, while 50 percent live in poverty.
Almost a million adolescents and young adults— close to half of the total population of young Nicaraguans—are considered disadvantaged in terms of education, health, employment, and living conditions. Despite such setbacks, they have high expectations in terms of development, progress, and hope.
A comparison between 2001, 2005, and 2009 shows that poverty is decreasing for young people, and the current generation has greater opportunities for growth. For example, young Nicaraguans enjoy increased access to technology and, on average, have received nine years of education, while their parents only received eight years.
Domestic violence is also a major concern. According to the report, young Nicaraguans value family because it represents a support space. However, report coordinator Donald Mendez warns it “can also represent a space for violence.”
The study reveals alarming data: adolescent girls are the victims of almost half of the country's reported cases of female killings, or femicide. In addition, cases of teenage pregnancy still remain high and many result from domestic violence. Despite the overall reduction in the birth rate, women aged 10 to 19 contributed to 27.5 percent of all births in 2009, one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world.