A quick glance of the World Bank's Human Capital Index shows measured human capital is higher for girls than boys in 140 of the 153 countries that have sex-disaggregated data—tempting one to conclude “mission accomplished” in closing gaps between girls and boys.

But is the job really done?

The latest statistics on child marriage are staggering. On average, more than 1 in 5 women were first married by the age of 18. This varies significantly across and within regions. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the highest rates, at 34% and 29%, respectively.

While it might be harder for women to become owners in incumbent businesses, with global efforts and initiatives to improve women’s entrepreneurship, we might see a higher participation of female ownership among new businesses.

Overall, women are 25% more likely than men to say they would register through a broker and 38% less likely to say they would register with a government labor office, a difference that is almost entirely driven by women with children under the age of 15. 

Gender-based violence has many drivers. Among the deepest-rooted are harmful gender norms and attitudes—the unspoken social rules of behavior maintained by the approval of a group.

Harmful norms sustaining gender-based violence include notions of a man’s authority over female behavior, as well as the acceptance of wife beating. These norms are upheld not only by men, but also by women themselves.

A status measure on child labor from the UCW—which we define as availability of at least one data point since 2010—is available only for half of the low- and middle-income countries. A progress measure—which we define as availability of at least one data point in the 1990s and at least one data point in the 2010s—is available only for 4 low- or middle-income countries. 

In 126 countries where we have sex-disaggregated HCI data, girls are on average slightly better off in all regions and all country income groups in the dimensions the HCI measures, like stunting rates. In fact, the distance between a country’s human capital and the frontier (1 in the figure above) is far larger than any gender gaps.