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Wangari Muta Maathai

Wangari Muta Maathai

Planting trees in KenyaWangari Muta Maathai (1940-2011) was internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation in Africa and beyond.

Wangari Maathai was born in Nyeri,Kenya.  She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree in veterinary anatomy.  She was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976-87 serving as chair from 1981-87. It was while she served in the National Council of Women, in 1976, that she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people.  She developed what became known as the Green Belt Movement into a broad-based, grassroots organization whose main focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. Through the Green Belt Movement Wangari assisted women in planting more than 20 million trees on their farms and on schools and church compounds.  She assisted with helping leaders in other countries adapt her vision in other countries.  In her later years she campaigned strongly against land grabbing and rapacious allocation of forests land.

Wangrai Maathai addressed the UN on several occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the earth summit. She served on the commission for Global Governance and Commission on the Future. She and the Green Belt Movement received numerous awards, most notably The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.