Today is International Women's Day and the UN says women in the region still experience limited job opportunities, under-representation in management positions, and workplace harassment.
Deputy Representative at the Pacific office for UN Women Nicolas Burniat said women also faced more limited employment opportunities, despite making up a significant portion of the informal economy.
Mr Burniat said the under-utilisation of half the population meant the potential of the Pacific's economies was also being under-utilised.
"The most serious economic organisations, whether it is the OECD or the World Bank, have studied and demonstrated that economically empowering women basically creates a massive return in GDP for the whole country.
"So not only is economically empowering women the right thing to do from a rights perspective, it's also the smart thing to do from a rights perspective."
Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate-Cox