This paper summarises the state of knowledge on women’s leadership in the Pacific. It concentrates on three spheres: 1) formal politics, the main focus of the literature on women’s empowerment; 2) the bureaucracy, an important employer of women; and 3) civil society, where Pacific women are particularly active. It highlights that Pacific women’s prominent informal peacebuilding role has not always led to their participation in formal peacebuilding processes: opportunities to facilitate equitable social and political change have been missed. In relation to the limited evidence base, it notes that women’s impact on governance and policy-making in the region has received little scrutiny. Further, although gender analyses carried out as part of donor-funded capacity development programmes contain much information on women’s participation in Pacific bureaucracies, this material is rarely made public.