September 8, 2010 | 6:12 AM
Who She Is: Wangari Maathai is the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee lauded her for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.” Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an environmentalist, democracy promoter and women’s rights activist. She is the first woman in central or eastern Africa to hold a Ph.D. and the first female head of a university department in
Why We Love Her: In 1977, Maathai started the Green Belt Movement as a grassroots tree planting program aimed at addressing the problems of deforestation, soil erosion, and water shortages. The Green Belt Movement has become one of the world’s most prominent women’s civil society organizations. Based in
Today, more than 40 million trees have been planted across
Wangari Maathai has been recognized internationally for her work in support of democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She has 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. Additionally, she was listed on the United Nation Environment Programme's Global 500 Hall of Fame and named one of the 100 heroines of the world.
“It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.”
“I placed my faith in the rural women of