Marshalls president says women key to coping with climate change

10:03 am on 20 March 2018

The president of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine says building on the ingenuity of the Marshalls' outer islands women will be one of the keys for the country to cope with climate change.

Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands, addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 22, 2016.

Hilda Heine says climate change affects a third of the Marshalls population. Photo: DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

Dr Heine spoke at a gathering in New York on the fringes of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

She said climate change was affecting a third of the country's population including women who rely on the production of traditional handicrafts.

She said changes like prolonged drought were affecting the availability of raw materials like pandanus, coconut leaves and shells.

Dr Heine stressed the need to help women to become even more resilient and adaptable so they and their families don't have to migrate.

"The changes that are impacting our lives are becoming the new norm and so it's not the smartest or the strongest that will survive," she said.

"It's actually the most adaptable and that's where the resilience comes in and that's where we need to build on our own people, making sure that they're adaptable."

Dr Heine said people had lived on the outer islands for thousands of years and could cope with a lot of challenges.

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