Wangari mathaai


                                                              MAATHAI !
                                             A FRIEND OF OUR EARTH
                               �� Wangari Maathai was the first woman from Africa
                                         honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2004
                                         by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for her contribution
                                         to sustainable ecological and environmental development.

                              �� On 5th June, 1977 World Environment day she planted
                                      nine trees in her backyard and founded the GREEN BELT MOVEMENT.

                              �� Over a period of nearly thirty years she has mobilized
                                      poor women to plant thirty million trees in protecting
                                      the existing environment for ecologically sustainable
                                     development, which plays a vital role in afforestation.
Source Tamilnadu textbooks & www.wikipedia.org

Wangari Muta Maathai (born April 1, 1940 in Ihithe village, Tetu division, Nyeri District of Kenya) is a 

Kenyanenvironmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and 

the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green 

Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental 

conservation, and women's rights. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize 

for “her contribution tosustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of 

Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of 

President Mwai Kibaki between 

Studies in America and Germany

Maathai received a scholarship to study at Mount St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College), in 

Atchison, Kansas. At Mount St. Scholastica, she majoredin biology, with minors in chemistry and 

German.[11] After receiving her bachelor of science degree in 1964, she was accepted to the University of 

Pittsburgh to study for a master's degree in biology. Her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh 

were funded by the Africa-America Institute.[12] During her studies inPittsburgh, Maathai first experienced 

environmental restoration, as environmentalists in the city pushed to rid the city of air pollution.[13] In 

January 1966, Maathai completed her studies at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a Master of Science 

in Biological Sciences,[14] and was appointed to a position as research assistantto a professor of zoology at 

Upon her return to Kenya, Maathai dropped her Christian name, preferring to be known by her birth name, Wangari 
Muta.[16] When she arrived at the University of Nairobi for her new job as a research assistant to the professor of 
zoology, she was informed that her job had been given to someone else. Maathai believes this was because of 
gender and tribal bias.[17] After a job search lasting two months, Professor Reinhold Hofmann, from the University 
of Giessen in Germany, offered her a job as a research assistant in the microanatomy section of the newly 
established Department of Veterinary Anatomy in the School of Veterinary Medicine at University College of 

In April 1966, she met Mwangi Mathai, another Kenyan who had studied in America, who would later become her 
husband.[19] She also rented a small shop in the city, and established a general store, at which her sisters 
worked. In 1967, at the urging of Professor Hofmann, she traveled to the University of Giessen in Germany in 
pursuit of a doctorate. She studied both at Giessen and the University of Munich.

[edit]Return to Kenya

In the spring of 1969, she returned to Nairobi to continue her studies at the University College of Nairobi as an 
assistant lecturer. In May, she and Mwangi Mathai were married.[20] Later that year, she became pregnant with 
her first child, and her husband campaigned for a seat in Parliament, narrowly losing. During the course of the 
election, Tom Mboya, who had been instrumental in founding the program which sent her overseas, was 
assassinated. This led to President Kenyatta effectually ending multi-party democracy in Kenya. Shortly 
afterward, her first son, Waweru, was born.[21]

In 1971, she became the first Eastern African woman to receive a Ph.D., when she was granted a Doctorate of 
Anatomy[14] from the University College of Nairobi, which became the University of Nairobi the following year. She 
completed her dissertation on the development and differentiation of gonads in bovines.[22] Her daughter, Wanjira, 
was born in December 1971. She continued to teach at the university, becoming a senior lecturer in Anatomy in 
1974, chair of the Department ofVeterinary Anatomy in 1976 and associate professor in 1977. She was the first 
woman appointed to any of these positions in Nairobi.[1] During this time, she campaigned for equal benefits for 
the women working on the staff of the university, going so far as to attempt to turn the academic staff association 
of the university into a union, in order to negotiate for benefits. The courts denied this bid, but many of her 
demands for equal benefits were later met.[23]

Green Belt Movement

Maathai moved into a small home she had purchased years before, and focused on the NCWK while she 
searched for employment. In the course of her work through the NCWK, she was approached by Wilhelm Elsrud
executive director of the Norwegian Forestry Society. He wished to partner with the Green Belt Movement and 
offered her the position of coordinator. Employed again, Maathai poured her efforts into the Green Belt Movement. 
Along with the partnership for the Norwegian Forestry Society, the movement had also received "seed money" 
from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Women. These funds allowed for the expansion of the movement, for 
hiring additional employees to oversee the operations, and for continuing to pay a small stipend to the women who 
planted seedlings throughout the country. It also allowed her to refine the operations of the movement, paying a 
small stipend to the women's husbands and sons who were literate and able to keep accurate records of 
seedlings planted.[35]

In 1985, the UN held the third global women's conference in Nairobi. During the conference, Maathai arranged 
seminars and presentations to describe the work the Green Belt Movement was doing in Kenya. She escorted 
delegates to see nurseries and plant trees. She met Peggy Snyder, the head of UNIFEM, and Helvi Sipilä, the first 
woman appointed a UN assistant secretary general. The conference helped to expand funding for the Green Belt 
Movement and led to the movement's establishing itself outside of Kenya. In 1986, with funding from UNEP, the 
movement expanded throughout Africa and led to the foundation of the Pan-African Green Belt Network. Forty-five 
representatives from fifteen African countries traveled to Kenya over the next three years to learn how to set up 
similar programs in their own countries to combat desertification, deforestation, water crises, and rural hunger. The 
attention the movement received in the media led to Maathai's being honored with numerous awards. The 
government of Kenya, however, demanded that the Green Belt Movement separate from the NCWK, believing the 
latter should focus solely on women's issues, not the environment. Therefore, in 1987, Maathai stepped down as 
chairman of the NCWK and focused her attention on the newly separate nongovernmental organization.[36


   Mathaai with former senator now President of U.S.A

Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai portrait by Martin Rowe.jpg
BornApril 1, 1940 (age 70)
Ihithe village, Tetu division, Nyeri DistrictKenya
EducationB.S. Biology,
M.S. Biological Sciences,
Ph.D. Veterinary Anatomy
OccupationEnvironmentalist, Political activist