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Published on November 20th 2018
Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011): The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize

Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai
Photo: deskgram.net

Born into British colonial Kenya, Wangari would overcome many challenges to create one of the world’s great environmental movements.

Among those challenges was being a woman then, as now, in a male dominated world.

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Wangari’s family, despite her being a girl, wanted her to be educated.

She was so capable, that at the age of 20, she received a scholarship to attend U.S. universities, and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Biology.

Subsequently, she earned her doctorate and became a professor.

But Wangari saw the environmental impact of Kenya destroying its forests and formed The Green Belt Movement (GBM).

GBM has now planted an astounding 51-million trees in Kenya, and inspired other African nations to take similar actions, one of the world’s great environmental movements.

But Wangari was also a political activist and an avid women’s rights supporter.

She challenged Kenyan Dictator Daniel Moi, and was often arrested and beaten or harassed, but was unstoppable.

In 2002 Wangari was elected to the Kenyan Parliament.

And that year, Daniel Moi stepped down after 24-years in power, in large part from the activism of Wangari’s many female supporters.

Meanwhile, on the world stage, Wangari won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

She became the first African woman to win this prestigious award, an incredible accomplishment for someone who overcame seemingly impossible odds to uplift the world.

Editor's Note: To learn more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangari_Maathai or visit The Green Belt Movement, here. To see a compelling 3-minute video “Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, click here.

In her personal life, Wangari and her husband had three children. They divorced in 1979.

In the next KazanToday: The Giving Closet of Carolyn Collins.


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