Born: 1 April 1940
Died: 25 September 2011
Born in Nyeri, Kenya, Wangari Maathai became an internationally recognised figure for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She is the first African woman and environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the first woman in Eastern and Central Africa to earn a Ph.D.
Prof. Maathai is also best known as the founder of the Green Belt Movement (GBM), an environmental non-governmental organisation focused on planting trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. She has addressed the UN on several occasions and spoken on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly, and has also served on the commission for Global Governance and the Commission on the Future. In 2002, she was elected to Kenya's Parliament where she served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.
In 2007, Prof. Maathai accepted an invitation to be the co-chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) with the former Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. Paul Martin.
To date, she has persistently advocated for the sustainable management and conservation of the Congo Basin forest as a world heritage and mega hotspot for biodiversity. Known famously as Africa’s “tree woman,” Prof. Wangari Maathai is definitely one of the world’s Great Utopians.