Hilda Heine

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Hilda Heine
Hilda Heine 20171030.jpg
8th President of the Marshall Islands
In office
28 January 2016 – 13 January 2020
Preceded byCasten Nemra
Succeeded byDavid Kabua
Personal details
Hilda Cathy Heine

(1951-04-06) 6 April 1951 (age 69)
Majuro, Trust Territory of the
Pacific Islands
(now Marshall
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Tony Jetnil
Tommy Kijiner
EducationUniversity of Oregon (BA)
University of Hawaii, Manoa (MA)
University of Southern

Hilda Cathy Heine (born April 6, 1951) is a Marshallese educator and politician, who served as the eighth President of the Marshall Islands. Prior to assuming office, she served as the Minister of Education. She was the first individual in the Marshall Islands to earn a doctorate degree, and the founder of the women's rights group Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI).[1][2]

Heine is the first woman to hold the presidency of the Marshall Islands.[3] She is also the first female president of any Micronesian country, and only the fourth woman to serve as head of government for any independent nation in Oceania (following Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark of New Zealand and Julia Gillard of Australia).[4][5][6] She is one of only three women currently serving in the Nitijeļā, the country's legislature, as of January 2016.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Heine was born on April 6, 1951, in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands.[7] She attended college in the United States where she earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon in 1970. She earned a master's degree at the University of Hawaii in 1975, and an educational doctorate at the University of Southern California in 2004.[8]

She received her honorary doctorate in philosophy from Fu Jen Catholic University in 2019.[9]


President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, H.E. Hilda C. Heine walking through the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery Sept. 12, 2017.

Heine worked at Marshall Islands High School in Majuro from 1975 through 1982, serving both as a classroom teacher and as a counselor.[8] In 2000, Heine founded Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI), a women's rights group.[10][11] Since 2005, she had been Pacific Resources for Education and Learning's (PREL) Director at the Pacific Comprehensive Assistance Center.[8] Heine participated in the 2009 with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Education Partnership. She has also been associated with the Leadership Pacific Advisory Board, the Commission on Education in Micronesia, and the Human Resources in Health Task Force.[8]

Representing Aur Atoll in the Nitijeļā (Legislature), she became Minister of Education.[12]

On January 27, 2016, Heine was elected President of the Marshall Islands after defecting from the Aelon Kein Ad party along with former Minister Thomas Heine and Wilbur Heine who joined the coalition and the majority Kien Eo Am (KEA) party.[13] After a vote of no confidence removing Aelon Kein Ad elect Casten Nemra, President Hilda Heine was chosen as the replacement by the opposition. As sole candidate she received 24 votes with six abstaining and three absent from the 33 members of the Nitijeļā. Heine was sworn into office on January 28, 2016.[3] She succeeded Casten Nemra who was ousted by a no-confidence motion just two weeks after his inauguration.[14][15]


  1. ^ Johnson, Giff (29 Jan 2016). "Marshalls leadership battles end, for now". Marianas Variety. Majuro. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  2. ^ Sallinen, Maarit; Siamomua, Amelia Kinahoi (2005). Profiles of Pacific Women. UNIFEM Pacific Regional Office. p. 13.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Giff (2016-01-28). "Hilda emerges as RMI President". Marshall Islands Journal. Archived from the original on 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  4. ^ "Hilda Heine Becomes First Women President Of The RMI". East-West Center (Radio New Zealand International). 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  5. ^ a b "Hilda Heine elected Marshalls president". Radio New Zealand International. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  6. ^ "First female President Hilda Hine elected in the Marshall Islands". PACNews (Pacific Islands News Association). 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  7. ^ "Members: President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands - Her Excellency President Hilda C. Heine". Republic of the Marshall Islands Parliament (Nitijela). Archived from the original on 2019-11-03. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  8. ^ a b c d "Marshall Islands". Pacific Women in Politics. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  9. ^ "輔仁大學全球資訊網". www.fju.edu.tw.
  10. ^ "First Female President Hilda Hine Elected In The Marshall Islands". RNZI. Papua New Guinea Today. 28 Jan 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Australian Volunteers International — Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI)". Australian Volunteers for International Development — Australian Government. Australian Volunteers International. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  12. ^ Marshall Islands Land Ownership and Agricultural Laws Handbook - Strategic Information and Basic Laws. Lulu.com. 4 April 2013. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4387-5952-4.
  13. ^ "Statement by the Spokesperson on the election of the President of the Republic of Marshall Islands" (Press release). European Union (EEAS). 28 Jan 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Hilda Heine elected first female Pacific leader as president of Marshall Islands". ABC News. January 27, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  15. ^ "Hilda Heine elected Marshalls president". Radio New Zealand. January 27, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016.

External links[edit]