The threat of discrimination and sexual harassment are holding girls back from taking positions of leadership, which is especially apparent in the Pacific according to Helen Clark.
The findings were revealed in a new survey which found most girls world-wide want to take leadership roles in politics and work.
The survey by child rights organisation, Plan International, was released at the international women's rights conference, Women Deliver, in Canada.
It showed nine out of ten girls believe being a leader involved being treated unfairly as compared to men and that women leaders experienced unwanted physical contact.
This perception was stronger amongst young women who had some experience of leadership than those who had none.
The former New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, who is a member of the board of Women Deliver, said this is a real concern for the Pacific where women's political representation is low.
"[It has] huge relevance for the Pacific. Start with the issue of political participation where the Pacific has amongst the worst rates in the world. Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have no women MPs whatsoever, Solomon Islands only two out of 50 and so it goes."