Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Activist Type

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a Marshallese poet, educator, and environmental activist who received global notoriety for her speech and performance at the 2014 UN Climate Summit. 

At the summit, she received a standing ovation from world leaders after performing her poem “Dear Matafele Peinem”. The poem, addressed to her daughter, serves as a moving call to action to protect island nations, like the Marshall Islands, who are greatly impacted by climate change and are the most at risk for further environmental destruction. In 2017 Jetnil-Kijiner published her first book, “Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter”. This collection of poems provides insight into the daily life and traditions of the Marshallese people who live in the ever-present threat of climate change.

In addition to her writing, Kathy is one of the co-founders of Jo-Jikum, a non-profit that encourages Marshallese youth participation in combating climate change. Through her work with Jo-Jikum, Jetnil-Kijner remains dedicated to creating and sharing solutions to protect the Marshall Islands from looming environmental threats.

Artwork by
Jordan Tran

This illustration of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is based on the masterful weaving techniques of the Marshallese people. The portrait references the beautiful hand-woven mats produced in the islands which feature intricate ornamental patterns to form the borders.

Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands Flag
October 21, 1986
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