Dr. Wangari Maathai October 17, 2006

In 2004, Dr. Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which acknowledged her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. This recognition stemmed from her work on community empowerment and environmental conservation. As a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK), she introduced the idea of engaging ordinary Kenyans to plant trees. She then developed this idea into a broad-based, grassroots organization called the Green Belt Movement (GBM), which mobilizes women’s groups to plant trees to conserve the environment, while at the same time empowering them to improve the quality of their own lives. Through GBM, Maathai has helped women plant more than 30 million trees on their farms and in school and church compounds throughout Kenya. Author of The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience (2003), Maathai’s latest book, Unbowed, a memoir, will be available October 3 from Knopf.