Definition of Youth

Yemen’s National Youth Strategy 2006-2015 defines youth and adolescents as between 15-24 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 15
  • 0
  • XX
  • Female
  • 15
  • 0
  • XX

  • HRW notes no legal minimum age for marriage under Sharia law, and UNSD notes that child marriage is permitted where “such marriage will entail some clear benefit.”  Homosexual acts illegal. Punishment includes the death penalty. Source: UNSD, ILGA, HRW (2014)

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Between 7-15 years, other "measures" will be applied in lieu of the normal sentence. Source:  Criminal Code of Yemen

Majority Age


Amendments to existing laws have been drafted to raise majority age to 18. Source: UN Child Rights Periodic Report (2004, 2012)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 97.55% Male (15-24) %
  • 82.66% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 50.61%Male %
  • 33.65% 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) %
  • 14.50% Male (13-15) %
  • 10.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Yemen has a national youth strategy for 2006-2015. A 2008 youth assessment report exists.

The national youth strategy (2006) has a vision of children and young people that “are protected, valued and respected for their unique contributions and creativity” and,  

have equitable access to a full range of social, health, educational, employment and leisure opportunities to reach their potential and develop as healthy, responsible and active citizens within a peaceful and prosperous Yemen.
The strategy includes intervention areas for 0-5 years, 6-14 years and 15-24 years. The priorities for youth (15-24 years) are: 1) Creating a national youth employment environment and plan; 2) Strengthening national identity, youth inclusion and participation; 3) Increasing leisure options and creating child/youth friendly urban planning; 4) Preventing early pregnancy and reducing the risks to reproductive health.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth and Sports is responsible for youth affairs. The ministry’s activities include youth hostels, youth centres, a youth employment project, youth welfare fund, Scouts and Girl Guides association and the Youth Advisory Committee.

Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, which took place in response to youth protests in 2011, concluded with the establishment of a Supreme Council for Youth, which will consider youth in public policies, and “institute clear policies and mechanisms for youth participation and inclusion in public policy making.”

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
No national youth organisation or association is noted in the national youth strategy (2006). A press release on January 25 2012, notes that the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative funded the establishment of six local youth councils, which in turn elected coordinators to form a National Youth Council Committee. No further information is available online.

The annual conference of the Asian Youth Council, a regional forum comprised of national youth organisations, took place in Yemen in 2013. It is unclear which organisations represented Yemen at the event.

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 Yemen could be found online. According to the World Bank, Yemen spent 12.49% of its government expenditure and 5.15% of its GDP on education provision in 2008.
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 Yemen Cross-Sectoral Youth Assessment: Final Report (2008) offers a situational analysis:

Yemen faces serious economic, political, and governance challenges. Corruption is endemic, and insider deals, embezzlement, and procurement problems are commonplace. The security sector has been involved in abuse, torture, and arbitrary arrests. Prisons conditions are horrible. Students are not safe in school, and freedom of speech and opinions is limited. The judiciary is ineffective and is controlled by social ties and bribery as well as pressured by the executive branch. Judges have been subject to harassment, reassignment, or dismissal for ruling against the government. Corruption plagues the civil service as underpaid employees resort to making money through bribes and illegal means.
New conflicts are emerging, and old ones are escalating. The Yemeni government has fought with the followers of the Shiite cleric Hussein Al-Houthi in the Northern governorate of Saada since 2004. Historical grievances in the South have manifested themselves in escalating tension with clashes and mass demonstrations and calls for secession. Al-Qaeda and Islamic militants are increasingly active in the country. Tribal conflicts remain fierce and have been escalating since 1995.
Unstable Economy
Yemen’s respectable 3.9 percent average annual growth from 2000–2007 has been primarily due to an increase in oil production and prices. In 2005 oil revenues accounted for 29 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 73 percent of total public revenues, funding significant elements of the national budget (mostly government salaries). Thus far, the government has not invested oil revenues in other sectors that have the potential to create more jobs for the country’s growing population. Due to lack of investment, the private sector has not grown significantly either in terms of goods and services produced or employment. A serious and growing water shortage is also limiting economic growth.
Three areas are targeted for USAID programming — Sana’a, Taiz, and Aden. In Taiz, Yemen’s second most severely impoverished area, 24 percent of the urban population and 42 percent of the rural population live in poverty. The poverty rate in Sana’a City is 15 percent; in Aden, it is 17 percent. Needs of these marginalized people are slowly being addressed in the outskirts of these cities, where they are now represented in local government councils.
Population Pressures and Growing Youth Bulge
At 3 percent, Yemen’s population growth rate all but cancels out economic growth. The population has doubled since 1990 and is set to almost double again by 2025 (from 19.7 million in 2004 to 38 million in 2025). Close to half the population is under age 15, and another one-third are between the ages of 15 and 29.
Rising Rates of Youth Unemployment
The inability of the economy to create sufficient jobs for a rapidly expanding number of workers (39 percent growth in only nine years) has meant a rapid increase in the number of unemployed people. Different studies show different unemployment levels (The World Bank estimated 35 percent in 2005), but all agree that unemployment has been rising rapidly, particularly among youth, and that the youth rate is roughly twice that of adults. Boys start working at an average age of 13 and girls at age 18. Men usually accept any job regardless of their level of education; pay tends to be their sole criterion for the type of job sought. In general, working conditions are harsh. Women are more selective (more than half are not in labor force) and prefer socially acceptable jobs.
Illiteracy and Educational Attainment
Many more boys (87 percent) attend primary school than girls (63 percent). Hindering female attendance are the limited number of segregated schools and classrooms, lack of trained female teachers, lack of sanitation facilities, long distances to school, high opportunity costs as perceived by parents, and early marriage among women.
Wide Range of Health Concerns
Yemen has high infant mortality (75 per 1,000 live births). Nutrition among the young is poor: 58 percent of children under age 5 were stunted for age and 41 percent of Yemeni children were underweight for age in 2003. Thirty-two percent of men in urban areas of Yemen participate in qat sessions on a daily basis, and an additional 8 percent report they chew the mild stimulant on a weekly basis.
The article, What Yemen’s Youth Got Out of the National Dialogue Conference, describes recent commitments for youth:

Economic Empowerment
The state will guarantee "care for women and youth, and developing them spiritually, morally, culturally, scientifically, physically, psychologically, socially, and economically, and [enable] their effective political participation." To mitigate unemployment, the state promises to institute a “Skills Development Fund,” achieving its goals in a decentralized manner through training qualified youth. Small agricultural, fishing, and cooperative projects aim to provide quick opportunities for youth unemployment. Yemen also plans to "take the necessary measures to achieve a wider youth participation in social, economic, cultural and political development of the country."
In the hopes of providing more of a social safety net, NDC outcomes include guarantees for providing social security for all youth in cases of sickness, disability, unemployment or loss of income provider, particularly for the families of youth martyrs according to the law.
The State also committed to microfinance youth projects with no interest loans that could have a knock-on effect for the country's economy, expanding entrepreneurship and providing more job opportunities. To help ensure equality in the general provision of loans, the Outcomes also require that the law stipulate the facilitation of loans for business women and youth. A supplemental measure includes modifying the current tax and fiscal laws to provide temporary tax breaks for projects that target economic empowerment of women and youth.
As part of the concerns with foreign companies tapping Yemen's energy reserves, the NDC also decided to explicit give priority to Yemeni citizens in private and public sector jobs, in accordance with the law.
In an effort to promote gender equality and improve education for young Yemenis across the country, the NDC reiterated its commitment to the right to free, high-quality education. making it mandatory at the primary level for all Yemenis. The Outcomes also commit the state to providing the necessary incentives and appropriate environment to ensure girls education, and an independent supreme authority for Education, Training, and Scientific Research will be responsible for designing and approving national education, training, and scientific research policies.