Adolescent Development and Participation

UNICEF is working to engage and empower adolescents as they make their way into adulthood.

Adolescent development and participation

Bhutan has a very young population: more than half the Bhutanese are under 28. The adolescent-youth group (10 to 24 years) constitutes about a third of the total population. They are full of energy, ideas and passion, and can become enthusiastic and committed agents of change. This age marks, in many ways, a definitive shift in the life of every individual.

42 per cent Bhutanese are below the age of 18, comprising about 24 percent of the population.  

Although a young population represents many opportunities, adolescents are a vulnerable group making the difficult transition from childhood into adulthood. Adolescence requires special attention and protection. It is a transitional period during which children go through several physical transformations as they mature. They face many challenges along the way, arising from existing as well as evolving societal norms:

  • Urbanization and consumerism; changes in the traditional family structure, and a changing social and cultural environment. 
  • Risky sexual behavior, physical and sexual abuse, early marriage and motherhood and a wide range of health issues including sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and reproductive health issues). 
  • Rising levels of unemployment, substance abuse, crime and violence .
  • Limited avenues, willingness or capacity, to engage with decisions affecting them, both at the local and national levels.
Adolescent girls in Bhutan attending the capacity building training

What we are doing

UNICEF Bhutan’s Adolescent Development and Participation (ADAP) programme works to empower adolescents to actively participate in civic affairs. We also strengthen services for them. The programme works with a host of government and NGO partners, as well as with youth groups across the country.

UNICEF Bhutan will continue to work with partners to strengthen services and capacity-development programmes for adolescents and youth. We need to focus further on youths’ leadership skills, to help them engage more actively and effectively in civic action. We must strengthen and expand services for adolescents and youth through integrated youth-friendly service centres throughout the country.

UNICEF works with partners increase coordination and networking among youth in the country. We will continue to intensify efforts with government agencies and civil society organizations as well as youth groups and networks. We must empower youth through sports. With the objective of promoting sports to build leadership and life skills among adolescents of Bhutan, UNICEF will explore more avenues to empower adolescent boys and girls to become agents of change through sports.

To empower adolescents and youth to actively participate in civic engagement skills and knowledge, we focus on enhancing the capacities of adolescents and youth to prevent, recognize, report and respond to violence.

Young Bhutanese boys growing up online