The United States secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, says the progress of women in the Pacific has not kept pace with the rest of the world.
Over the weekend, Mrs Clinton met with Pacific women leaders
She launched the Rarotonga Partnership, which will expand leadership training, academic scholarships, and other educational opportunities through programs that actively embrace and address gender issues.
Mrs Clinton says when women are unequal participants development is stymied.
"Progress towards gender equality in the Pacific has not kept pace with the rest of the world, and we have to recognise that, but we are also here today to do something about it, look at the numbers, research from the World Bank and local organisations shows that the Pacific has the worlds lowest rate of women participating in legislative bodies."
Hillary Clinton says supporting and promoting gender equality is a core part of the United States' commitment in the region