Wangari Muta Maathai

(Ihithe, 1 April 1940 - Nairobi 25 September 2011, she belongs to the kikuyu ethnicity). She was an environmental, politician and biologist from Kenya.




She was the first woman to graduate from Central Africa, first in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964), then, in 1966, in Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, where she he had been able to move thanks to the program, "Kennedy Airlift" (it provided a scholarship to the best African students) and where she worked from 1966 in the Faculty of Biology, department of Zoology. She continued her doctoral studies in Germany and obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi (1971), where she also taught veterinary anatomy. She became chairman of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977, respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to reach such positions in the region.

In 1976 she enrolled in the National Council of Women of Kenya, assuming the presidency in 1981, which she held until 1987, when she left the association. While she served in the National Council of Women, in 1976, she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people; this idea was enormously successful, it gave birth to the Green Belt Movement, a non-governmental organization whose main goal is the planting of trees with women groups in order to preserve the environment and improve the quality of lives. in the 90s, she was an active protagonist of a strong campaign of sensitization about nature and the issues of deforestation, through her over 40 million trees were planted in Kenya, to fight erosion. In 1986, the Green Belt Movement established a Pan African Green Belt Network, thanks to which 40 other people from other African countries established similar tree-planting initiatives in their countries or used some of the Green Belt Movement methods to improve their efforts. So far some countries have successfully launched such initiatives in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, etc..)


In September 1998, she embarked in new challenges, playing a worldwide leading-role as co-chairman of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, that seeks the cancellation of the unpayable debts of african’s poor countries by 2000.

In December 2002 she was elected to parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the votes. Subsequently, between January 2003 and November 2005, she was appointed, by the president or the government Mwai Kibaki's, as Deputy Minister for Environment, natural resources and wildlife, of Kenya's ninth parliament.

On 10 February 2006 she participated in the Opening Ceremony of the XX Olympic Winter Games in Turin, holding for the first time in the history the the Olympic flag with seven other famous women. She also participated in the International Congress Foederatio Pueri Cantores, as the representative of Kenya.


She was also part of the boards of several organizations including: UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament, The Jane Goodall Institute, Women and Environment Development Organization (WEDO), World Learning for International Development, Green Cross International, Environment Liaison Center International, The Worldwide Network of Women in Environmental Work and National Council of Women of Kenya.


W. Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She addressed the United Nations on several occasions and has spoken in favor of women at the special sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the Summit on Earth. She served the Global Governance and the Commission on the Future.


Ill with cancer for a long time, she disappeared in September 2011 at the age of 71 years.




In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for "hes contribution to the cause of sustainable development, democracy and peace." She and her Green Belt Movement received numerous awards: the Sophie Prize (2004), The Petra Kelly Prize for Environment (2004), The Conservation Scientist Award (2004), J. Sterling Morton Award (2004), Wango Environment Award (2003, Outstanding Vision and Commitment Award (2002), Excellence Award from the Kenyan Community Abroad (2001), Golden Ark Award (1994), Juliet Hollister Award (2001), Jane Leadership Award Adams (1993), Edinburgh Medal (1993), the Hunger Project'sAfrica Prize for Leadership (1991), Goldman Environmental Prize (1991), the Woman of the World (1989), Windstar Award for the Environment (1988), Better World Society Award (1986), Right Livelihood Award (1984) and Woman of the Year Award (1983).


Professor Maathai was included in UNEP's Global 500 Hall Fame and named one of the 100 heroines of the world. In June 1997, Wangari was elected by Earth Times as one of 100 people worldwide who have made a difference in the environmental field. Professor Maathai received honorary doctorates from several institutions around the world: Williams College, MA, USA (1990), Hobart and William Smith Colleges (1994), University of Norway (1997) and Yale University (2004).


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