This paper aims to respond to the fact that Early Childhood Development initiatives and programmes, both internal and external, often appear to give limited attention to gender inequality and discrimination. Furthermore, initiatives to promote girls’ rights and gender equality often pay little attention to early childhood, instead focusing on older girls and adolescents. There is no question that the most significant gender-specific rights violations and gaps usually affect older girls, adolescents and young women. Added to this, global-level data does not indicate significant differences between girls and boys in terms of infant mortality, under-five malnutrition or enrolment in pre-school, while in the countries with available data, girls and boys are roughly equally at risk of experiencing violent punishment from caregivers in the home.1, 2 But if we focus just on the global data, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that in many communities and right from birth, gender discrimination affects girls disproportionally – and girls’ chances to realise their rights and to live a life of dignity. It also sets up boys for a life of harmful notions of masculinity.