The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says the key to sustainable and resilient development in Pacific communities is the economic empowerment of Pacific women.
Dame Meg Taylor, in marking International Women's Day, said when young women were empowered they were free to make their own decisions.
She said the flow-on effects were enormous.
Dame Meg said increased female labour force participation would lead to faster economic growth, while evidence shows that when more of the household income is controlled by women the beneficial spending on children improves.
She said she and the forum leaders are committed to advancing gender equality across the region.
Gender equality will bring massive return to Pacific - UN
The United Nations says Pacific nations are missing out on economic benefits by not fostering gender equality.
The organisation said women in the region still experienced 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."