“I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it.” Wangari Maathai
Africa’s first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Kenyan environmentalist, lawmaker and civil society activist, Wangari Maathai. She spearheaded the struggle against state-backed deforestation and founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 in Kenya, which has planted over 45 million trees in the African country. She’s also been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and democratic development, and in 2002 she was elected to the Kenyan Parliament.
“Changing the top, if you don’t have the grassroots, is almost imposible.”
To commemorate and honor the life and work of Professor Wangari Maathai, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests opened Forest Day 5, one of the most intensive and influential annual global events on forests, with a short video about the Nobel Laureate.
Wangari’s book “ The Challenge for Africa” goes beyond Kenya to tackle the broad obstacles to living in peace, justice, environmental and economic security for the one billion people across the continent of Africa.
We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of visionary professor Wangari Maathai, who passed away on September 25, 2011, in Nairobi at the age of 71.
Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a women-driven grassroots reforestation and sustainable development movement that has planted more than 40 million trees, its 3,000 tree nurseries managed by some 60,000 women and 1,500 men.
Wangari was an elected member of Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the Kenyan Government of President Mwai Kibaki from 2003 to 2005. A biologist, Wangari was the first Kenyan woman to earn a PhD, to teach and chair a department at the University of Nairobi; an environmental and sociopolitical activist, her numerous awards include the Goldman Environmental Prize, the Africa Prize for Leadership and the UNEP Eyes on the Environment Award. Wangari was a co-founder of The Nobel Women’s Initiative, whose goal is to support women’s rights around the world. Her autobiography, Unbowed: One Woman’s Story, was released in 2006.