Wangari Maathai

(Kenya, 1940 – 2011) – was a Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She went on to become the first woman in East and Central Africa to become a Doctor of Philosophy, receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organisation focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “converting the Kenyan ecological debate into mass action for reforestation”.


Maathai was an elected member of the Parliament of Kenya and between January 2003 and November 2005 served as assistant minister for environment and natural resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki. She was an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council. As an academic and the author of several books, Maathai was not only an activist but also an intellectual who has made significant contributions to thinking about ecology, development, gender, and African cultures and religions.