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About Wangari Maathai


Photo courtesy of THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS

Watch a video message from Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, is a doctor in biological science and former Assistant Minister for Environment in Kenya. She is also the honorary chair for the MOTTAINAI Campaign.

Born in 1940, Wangari Maathai,grew up on a farm in Nyeri, Central Kenya. With six siblings to feed, her household was not wealthy. And like many women in Africa circumstances made it difficult for her to get an education. Fortunately her brother convinced her parents to let her go to school, and in 1960, against all odds she selected to become a state sponsored exchange student.

From there on she earned a masters degree at the University of Pittsburg and went on to receive a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Nairobi.

In spite of her personal success, Maathai found herself constantly troubled by the poverty and environmental destruction that affected her country. Fueled with a strong desire to improve the situation she initiated The Green Belt Movement In 1977, through which she assisted women in planting more than 40 million trees on their farms and on schools and church compounds.

Wangari Maathai was elected to parliament in 2002, and served as Assistant Minister for Environment from 2003 to 2006. In recognition of her contribution in the areas of environmental conservation and civil rights she became the first woman in Africa to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.