Resource 5: Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement
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Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai was born in 1940 in the Nyeri sub county of Kenya. After finishing school in Kenya, Maathai studied Biology in the United States and Germany. She then returned to Kenya, where she became the first eastern African woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine.
In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization based in Kenya.
The Green Belt Movement organizes poor rural women in Kenya to plant trees, combating deforestation, restoring their main source of fuel for cooking, and stopping soil erosion. Maathai has incorporated advocacy and empowerment for women, eco-tourism, and just economic development into the Green Belt Movement.
Over 30,000 women have been trained in forestry, food processing, bee-keeping, and other trades that help them earn income while preserving their lands and resources. Communities in Kenya have been motivated and organized to both prevent environmental destruction and restore that which was damaged.
Since Maathai started the movement in 1977, over 30 million trees have been planted. She has come to be affectionately called "Tree Woman" or "The Tree Mother of Africa."
In 2004, Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize, in part, for her work with the Green Belt Movement. She has also written a book, entitled The Green Belt Movement.
Adapted from: Wikipedia, Website