Definition of Youth

According to the 2009 Youth Monograph, the now expired Vanuatu National Youth Policy 2007-2011 defined youth as 12-30 years old. The monograph itself, using data from the national population and housing census, focuses on youth aged 10-30 years.


Marriageable Age

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

  • Minimum legal ages vary across states/provinces, ethnic/religious groups or forms of marriage. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNFPA-ICPD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 10-14 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 10 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  Penal Code of Vanuato

Majority Age


While Vanuatu’s constitution only refers to the age of voting, in legislative practice 18 is used as the age of majority. Source: Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 95.51% Male (15-24) %
  • 95.98% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 50.72%Male %
  • 52.52% 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) %
  • 34.10% Male (13-15) %
  • 19.60% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Vanuatu launched a youth development policy and an action plan. A youth monograph exists.

According to an article in November 2013 by Anita Roberts in the Vanuatu Daily Post, a two-day youth stakeholders’ forum was held following the launch of the new Youth Development Policy (2012-2022) and Strategic Plan of Action (2012-2015). The forum was organised by the Ministry of Youth Development, Sports and Training, UNFPA, Commonwealth Youth Programme and the Vanuatu National Youth Council.   While no version currently exists online, a presentation in August 2013 gives an overview of the policy. Its vision is that young “[avail] themselves of traditional and religious values, along with modern technologies” in support of both person and socio-economic development. The three key areas are: (1) educational and entrepreneurial pathways; (2) personal development, and; (3) public participation.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry for Youth Development, Sports and Training is responsible for youth issues in Vanuatu. According to its 2004-2006 corporate plan, the ministry was established in 2003 (previously called the Ministry of Youth Development and Training) with the mission to provide opportunities for lifelong learning, improve standard of living and support personal, community and national development goals. As reported in the Vanuatu Daily Post in November 2012, the ministry was dissolved then re-instated in 2013 as part of a list of commitments pledged by the new government.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Vanuatu National Youth Council’s mission is to “[s]trengthen and build networks [and] initiate capacity-building to involve and empower youth in decision-making.” The council represents six provincial youth councils and two municipality youth councils, as reported by the Vanuatu Daily Post in November 2012. It also oversees the registration, training and capacity-building programmes for youth groups in Vanuatu.  The Vanuatu National Youth Council is a full member of the Pacific Youth Council.

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?
As listed in the 2013 Budget, the budget allocated to Youth Development, Sport and Recreation was VUV 75.9 billion (USD 787,774). This amount is for the office as part of the Ministry of Education, before it was re-instated as the Ministry for Youth Development, Sports and Training in April 2013 as part of a list of commitments pledged by the new government. However, the amount allocated specifically to youth is unclear. According to the World Bank, Vanuatu spent 23.71% of its government expenditure and 5.01% 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 August 2013).

Additional Background

From Youth Monograph: Young People in Vanuatu (2009): Young people in the population  
  • Young people, defined using a broad age grouping of 10- 30 years, account for about two-in-five people (39%) of Vanuatu’s total population
  • The age group of 12-30 years is used in official youth policy and accounts for 80,132 young people, or over one third of Vanuatu’s total population
  • Young people in the narrower age group of 15-24 years number almost one-in-five in the total population (19%).
  • Young people aged 15-24 years account for just over one- third (34%) of the working age population aged 15 years and above. [...]
  Youth transition  
  • Most young people aged 12-30 years in Vanuatu have been to school (94%).
  • Many young people are now staying on in school in their teenage years, with half of 17 year-olds still in school. However, the age at which a young person leaves school is different for urban and rural areas. [...]
  • The main movements of young people are from rural to urban areas to take advantage of better education and employment opportunities.
  • Migration from one rural area to another rural area is also common, especially for young women moving to the home island of their spouse. [...]
  • The proportion of young teenagers aged 15, 16 and 17 years who have ever given birth is low, but rises to 12% for 18 year-olds and 20% for 19 year-olds. [...]
  • The Age Specific Fertility Rate (ASFR) of women age (15- 19 years) has reduced significantly since 1999, from 92 to 66. [...]
  • Most young people in the 15-19 year age group in November 2009 are still students.
  • Nearly a third of the 15-19 year-old students are still in primary school (31%).