With an estimated population of nine million in 2018, Tajikistan has a young multi-ethnic population. About 40% of the population are adolescents and youth, and 68% are under the age of 30. Seventy per cent live in rural areas. Young people and adolescents, especially adolescent girls, have limited opportunities to gain education, knowledge, and skills that could lead to their social and economic advancement and bring them financial and personal security.
Poor education – along with lack of opportunities for meaningful employment in the country once young people leave school – drive high rates of mostly outbound migration among young people (females make up about 18% of migrants). These adolescents and young people are dissatisfied with the economic situation, quality of education and lack of opportunities.
Every third adolescent (aged 10-19 years) reports being depressed: this equates to 584,000 depressed adolescent girls and boys in a country where only 1% of the national health budget is allocated to mental health.
In total, 504,799 adolescents and young people (aged 15-24) were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2016, corresponding to a NEET rate of 30% among young people. Notably, the NEET rate among females is nine times higher than males. In total, the labour potential of one in five young people is underutilized.
The highest school drop-out rates are found among adolescent girls, while 86% of all NEET are girls.
Opportunities for civic engagement are extremely limited in Tajikistan. More than 80% of adolescents in the country do not know their rights.
Adolescents also have limited access to health services, and the health services that are available to adolescents are mostly not adapted to their needs. In particular, mental health and psychosocial services are limited and underdeveloped in the country. The need for mental health and psychological services in Tajikistan was highlighted by a study on suicide commissioned by UNICEF in 2012. The suicide rate in Sughd region (2009-2010) was estimated at 11.2 cases per 100,000 young people aged 12-24 (11.7 for females and 10.6 for males), meaning, unusually in the global context, that the female suicide rate was significantly higher than that of males.