Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai–the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize–was born in 1940 in Kenya into a farming family. She was the first woman from Central or Western Africa to earn a doctorate; hers was in biology. Deforestation was damaging Kenya, so she started a reforestation project called the Green Belt Movement. The plan was to plant tree belts around urban areas, that would be managed by women. “I have been talking about the environment, yes. But I have also been talking about good governance. And I have been trying to say that it is very important that we consciously work for peace by avoiding mismanagement of our resources,” she said. In 2002, the was elected to the Kenyan Parliament with 98% of the vote in her favor. She then became Deputy Minister for the Environment. At age 64, she received the Nobel Prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” “We are called to assist the earth, to heal her wounds, and in the process, heal our own,” she said. 

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