Remembering Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment


You might not know her name, but you should. Wangari Maathai, who passed away over the weekend from cancer at age 71, was a remarkable human being. She was the  first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  The New York Times reports,

Mrs. Maathai, one of the most famous and widely respected women on the continent, wore many hats — environmentalist, feminist, politician, anticorruption campaigner, human rights advocate, protester and head of the Green Belt Movement she founded. She was as comfortable in the gritty streets of Nairobi’s slums or the muddy hillsides of central Kenya as she was hobnobbing with heads of state.

She understood the connections between environment and poverty and recognized that those connections deeply impacted women’s lives. She started her Green Belt Movement by offering Kenyan women a small sum of money to plant trees. When asked why she chose to work with women, she responded, “I started with women from the countryside, where deforestation and soil loss were harming them. In Kenya women are the first victims of environmental degradation, because they are the ones who walk for hours looking for water, who fetch firewood, who provide food for their families.” Honor her today by considering what you can do that would make a sustainable difference for the environment and how women might help to make that change.

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