Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan biologist, veterinarian, ecologist, environmental and political activist, 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 to reverse the climatic effects encountered as a result.
Wangari Maathai created the Green Belt Movement by encouraging women to go to the forest and collect seeds from trees native to them and then create greenhouses, these women received stipends for their cooperation. Later those seeds were used to plant trees in Kenya.
The idea was to promote women’s joint work in planting trees in order to alleviate their own situation and to combat deforestation, drought and erosion. Women were then being given ecological trainings, they had leadership roles, they 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.
Few years down the line she had succeeded in spreading the Green Belt Movement to 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 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 organized and attended by 35,000 women.
‘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 characterized globally as an approach to sustainable development that “embraces democracy, human rights and in particular women’s rights”.
She was an effective political activist who fought tirelessly for human rights, democracy and against 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 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 defense 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 compliations 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. also read 6 Amazing Female Nigerian Environmental Activist