Definition of Youth

The youth policy study (2009) notes that Syrian laws define youth as between 15-25 years, however discrepancies exist and “youth” remains legally and socially poorly defined.


Marriageable Age

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 7 - 15 years old, cannot be sentenced to penalties for acts committed, but may be subject to special reform measures. Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 97.11% Male (15-24) %
  • 95.55% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 69.04%Male %
  • 69.17% 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) %
  • 31.90% Male (13-15) %
  • 18.90% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Syria does not yet have a national youth policy, but development is underway. A 2009 study has details.

According to the youth policy study (2009), in 2008, the Government of Syria began working on a national youth policy to form the basis for the “Five-Years Development Plan.” It is noted that this would “define structures, activities, procedures and a budget for young people.”   The process included a national situational analysis on youth, and was supported by UNICEF, UNFPA and national partners, through a national committee.   However, the status of the youth policy process is unclear given the civil conflict beginning in 2011.

The Syrian Constitution (2012) provides basic education for all and allows for numerous freedoms and rights. However, the ratification of the constitution is controversial and has been criticised.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
According to the youth policy study (2009), the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs (SCFA), which reports directly to the Prime Minister, has the aim of “promoting the status of the Syrian family and enhancing its role in the human development process.” Its responsibilities include young people, and the SCFA was one of the partners in the development of the national youth policy.

The Revolutionary Youth Union, the youth wing of the ruling Ba’ath Party, had the task of coordinating the youth policy across government ministries, although is not a government institution.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The youth policy study (2009) describes the Revolutionary Youth Union as the youth wing of the ruling Ba’ath Party, which has 1.2 million members, with 4200 local branches. It operates with the support of the Ba’ath Party leadership and State, with an “educational and political” mandate. It continues to support the Government throughout the civil conflict.

The Syrian Youth Federation is also noted in the youth policy study (2009). The official Facebook Page suggests support for the Syrian opposition, and the current functioning role of the Federation is unclear.

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 Syria could be found online. According to the World Bank, Syria spent 19.18% of its government expenditure and 5.13 % of its GDP on education provision in 2009.
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

The BBC Country Profile – Syria (2014), explains the beginning of the current conflict:
In 2011-12 security forces used tanks, gunfire and mass arrests to try to crush anti-government street protests inspired by the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. These protests rapidly took on a more formal nature when the opposition began to organise political and military wings for a long uprising against the Baath government. As 2012 wore on, the stand-off escalated into civil war, with defections from the governing elite signalling the steady collapse of central authority.
The Crisis in Syria page by UNFPA documents the number of refugees, and current news about the conflict:
Syria is experiencing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today. Since the beginning of conflict three years ago, more than 2.5 million people, mostly women and children, have been registered as refugees in neighbouring countries.
With more than 9 million people inside Syria who are in need of assistance, including 2.4 million women and girls of reproductive age, it is estimated that 200,000 pregnant women are in need of urgent care. UNFPA, through its implementing partners, continues to provide clean delivery kits and reproductive health services, including emergency obstetric care and psychosocial support within Syria.
The youth policy study (2009), which took place prior to the civil conflict, outlined the then challenges facing youth:
Young people in Syria face many challenges because the new political and economic re- forms are transforming the society and the culture in a radical way. The educational system has new generation is confronted with Western cultural models and with a new economic and social system. These models are completely different from the ones of their parents and teachers so the gap between generations is increasing faster than before and communication and understating are more difficult. Syria is home to a new generation looking for its own identity but also struggling for a good job, a house and a social place in the country.