Women make up just 6.1 per cent of Pacific parliamentarians. Increasing women's representation is a key area of focus for political leaders and aid donors, both as a human rights issue and as a vehicle for the substantive representation of women. Women's participation in politics in the Pacific Islands is often seen as a form of social contract between women. Female voters are expected to vote for female candidates. In exchange, female parliamentarians are expected to act, not just for the constituency that elected them, but for women as a group. This article examines the expectations that are placed on the political participation of Pacific women, and argues that attempts to increase women's participation in politics in the region should avoid reinforcing these expectations through an emphasis on substantive representation.