Definition of Youth

According to a youth policy study (2009) the Tunisian state defines youth as those aged 15-29. A report on youth work in Tunisia (2013) says the government traditionally focuses on the age bracket 15-25.


Marriageable Age

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

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Tunisia

Majority Age


Source: Youth policy study (2009)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.35% Male (15-24) %
  • 97.76% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

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) %
  • 20.10% Male (13-15) %
  • 3.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Tunisia has no national youth policy. Studies on youth policy from 2009 and on youth work from 2013 exist and explain.

According to a report on youth work in Tunisia(2013), the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Women and Families “is in the process of formulating a new youth policy that will be ‘a product of the revolution.’” Prior to the revolution of 2011 it was likewise “more accurate … to speak of strategies concerning youth rather than a single youth policy” says the youth policy study of 2009. The earlier Tunisian Foreign Minister K Morjane in a speech on 28 September 2010 pointed out that policy planning documents attach „crucial importance to youth as the pillar of the present and the builder of the future,” and the results of national youth consultations were taken into consideration in preparing development plans. Tunisia has also ratified the African Youth Charter.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Women and Families is responsible for the implementation of youth policies. Other ministries share responsibilities for those below 18 years of age, and the employment for those having reached the age of majority. Services to young people are delivered through centralised administrative units and a network of youth centres. Decentralization is a priority of the post-revolution government, according to the 2013 study on youth work. The Youth Observatory collects opinions of young people on their situation as well as on policy issues.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The 2009 youth study describes youth representation structures before the revolution of 2011. Then the Tunisian Union of Youth Organisations (UTOJ) was the main coordination body of youth organisations and represented young people on the Higher Youth Council, a government forum of consultation on youth issues. However, UTOJ was aligned with the party whose regime was toppled in 2011. A 2013 youth perceptions study argues that also after the revolution youth “feel that the current leadership is not listening at all to the aspirations of youth but are viewing them only 
as numbers at the voting box.”

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?
A youth policy study (2009) mentions that 1.5% of the overall state budget is spent on youth, but no year is given. According to the World Bank, Tunisia spent 21.51% of its government expenditure and 6.21% 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

From the Youth Perception Study (2013)  
A date that marked a significant milestone for Tunisians was the 23 October 2011, when Tunisia witnessed the first transparent elections in its history, registering only 17 per cent of youth participation (18 to 25-year olds).
Most participants [of the study] denounced the failed attempt to
fulfil the goals of the revolution. Issues like drafting a constitution and establishing a democracy have taken precedence over the social-equality demands of the protesters of 14 January. Regional inequalities have not been adequately dealt with. The unemployment issue, which is intimately linked to Tunisia’s economic challenges, remained and has been further affected by the wave of sit-ins and protests that followed the revolution. At 18 per cent, the national unemployment rate is still high, but peaks at about 40 per cent among youth.
There is a collective sense of discontent with the performance of the political elite on the part of youth and this has been building up over the past year. The National Constituent Assembly, charged with drafting Tunisia’s post-revolutionary constitution, has received sharp criticism. Plenary sessions are aired live on Tunisian national television, which has enabled most Tunisians to follow the discussions between the deputies that seem a mockery to many of our participants. … Tunisian youth are overall feeling excluded from this political process. They believe that political participation in the country is unrepresentative.
The majority of the participants believe that they are not being involved enough in politics. Several factors are considered to be the cause for this low political participation. Politics is viewed as being restricted to elite circles and political parties are described as outmoded. … ‘There is no political will to encourage youth to become engaged. There are no youth in the government [...] we are engaged and everything
 but young people are less engaged and motivated than before. We are deceived now. We are giving up.’ They feel that the current leadership is not listening at all to the aspirations of youth but are viewing them only 
as numbers at the voting box. This is frustrating because young people want political inclusion and yet see the total numbers of youth actually entering the system is still marginal. “In the constituent assembly, if we were to consider it as the highest power in the country, out of the 217 members not more than 10 per cent are 
young people.”
The expansion of CSOs is considered by young people to be one of the key achievements of the revolution, offering a space of
active engagement for youth. There has been an increase in the number of organisations that are youth-led and youth-targeting. As one participant says, ‘a new culture of volunteerism is being set into motion.’ …  Even those that are not youth-led rely on youth volunteerism and participation and have a focus on youth.
  From the Euromed youth policy study (2009),  
There is tension between the will and the expectations of the young people and the will expressed in policies designed to target their needs. … It is more accurate in Tunisia’s case, to speak of plural strategies concerning youth rather than a single youth policy. The work of the non-formal sector, while essential, has only imposed [sic!] itself in recent times. … There are now public programmes, without however, the existence of any defined youth policy. The existence of the National Youth Observatory has marked a big change in the state’s approach to recognizing youth.
    From youth work in Tunisia (2013)  
The uprising in late 2010 has become known as a “youth uprising” and the post-revolutionary state has adopted this language in what it sees as a defence of the revolution. In this respect, youth encompasses a broader definition (up to around 40) than has traditionally been used by the youth work community. … Over 28 per cent of the population is between the ages of 15-29, and fully 51 per cent of the population is under 30.
The interim government also paved the way for free multiparty elections, which took place in October 2011, putting into power a coalition government led by the Islamist party Ennahda. The elections also created a Constituent Assembly to write the country’s new constitution. Young people have been active participants in the campaign period, as both members of political parties, and in the drafting of the constitution, frequently protesting for the inclusion of rights within the new constitution. Nevertheless, the post-elections period has also been marked by an increasing polarization of Tunisian society, culminating in heated debates among opposing figures in civil society, labour, and politics.
There are moments in history when ordinary activities taken on extraordinary importance. The youth revolution in Tunisia in 2011 is one such moment. Tired of the indignity of repression, Tunisian youth rose up to begin what became the Arab Spring.
The role of youth in the revolution was fundamental. Based largely on the previous regime’s inability to live up to the demands of Tunisia’s most important demographic, it was not by chance that an unemployed, but educated, young man named Mohamed Bouazizi became the face of the revolution. His suicide after having his fruit stand taken away by the police represented the frustrations of many Tunisian youth. But two years after the revolution, and with Tunisia’s first freely elected parliament in place, many of the problems facing Tunisia’s youth remain. The revolution itself, which led to an economic downturn, coupled with the economic problems in Europe, have left Tunisia unable as yet to respond to the issues that caused the revolution – namely jobs and opportunities for young people.
The Tunisian government offers a wide range of services to young people to facilitate civic life through a variety of institutions. These services include employment, training opportunities (including: vocational training, skills training, and self-employment), civic participation, and recreational activities. These form the basis of Tunisia’s comprehensive youth program. However, there are difficulties in coordinating these services across the agencies, leading to fragmented coverage, ambiguity and overlap in roles.
The association of youth work with the former regime, and in particular the political party Rassemblement constitutionnel democratique (RCD), has detracted from the impact of youth work activities. Today, youth workers recognize the importance of being seen as independent actors – serving youth and not the state.
For many years, structural conditions in the Tunisian economy have meant that job creation has not kept pace with the rising number of young people entering the work force. Unemployment is a major social issue, especially for highly educated young workers. Tunisia’s overall unemployment rate spiked by 6 per cent following the revolution, from 13 to 19 per cent. For highly skilled youth, aged 15-29, the unemployment rate exceeds 44 per cent.