Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan biologist, veterinarian, ecologist, environmental and political activist, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. The first African woman to win the Nobel Prize. She dedicated her spirit, soul, and body to fighting deforestation in Kenya and reversing the climatic effects encountered.
Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan biologist, veterinarian, ecologist, environmental and political activist, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. First African Woman to win the Nobel Prize. She dedicated her spirit, soul, and body to fighting deforestation in Kenya and reversing the climatic effects encountered as a result.
The idea was to promote women’s joint work in planting trees to alleviate their situation and combat deforestation, drought and erosion. Women were then given ecological training; they had leadership roles, ran the nurseries and worked with foresters in planning and implementing water collection and food security projects. Hence she took advantage of their positions in advancing emancipation and empowerment of peasant women.
A few years down the line, she had succeeded in spreading the Green Belt Movement to the majority of Africa, with thousands of new volunteers and existing volunteers who have planted 47 million native trees in line with the local environment.
Wangari received the Nobel known as the “Tree Woman” and was the first African woman to receive the Nobel also the First woman to obtain a doctorate degree in East and Central Africa. When she received the Nobel, her movement had 3,000 nurseries organised and attended by 35,000 women.
Wangari was also the proposal of the “Billion Tree Campaign”, which successfully managed the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and later became the Seven Billion Campaign, which the UNEP called a historic challenge: planting a tree for every single soul on the planet.
‘In 2006″, explained the document with which UNEP launched the new campaign in 2008, “we wondered if the goal of one billion trees was too ambitious; it was not. The goal of planting two billion has also been proven insufficient”.
However, Wangari’s contributions weren’t limited to these brilliant initiatives and achievements: as the Oslo Nobel Committee highlighted in awarding her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for “her contributions to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.
Her work has been characterised globally as an approach to sustainable development that “embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights”.
She was an influential political activist who fought tirelessly for human rights, democracy and corruption in Kenya, which led her repeatedly to prison, but she, however, received notable successes such as avoiding the construction of an urban complex in Nairobi Central Park.
Also, after the establishment of democracy, she was elected a deputy with 98% of the votes in 2002 and in 2003, she was appointed Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Wild Life.
She worked locally and globally and knew how to unite the defence of the environment with the fight against poverty and discrimination against women. WED 2020: Remembering a Genius Ken Saro Wiwa on this day
South African Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu summed up her legacy: Maathai was “a true African heroine” (and also universal, we would add) who understood “the indissoluble link between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability”.
Maathai died for having promoted the planting of millions of trees on September 25, 2011. She died of complications from ovarian cancer precisely in the International Year of Forests, slated to promote sustainable forest management.
She commands a well-deserved tribute, and the world should take an example of her political, social and environmental activism in the fight for a culture of peace, the equality of men and women and the achievement of a sustainable future.