WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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Wangari Muta Maathai (April 1, 1940 - )

Posted June 05, 2007 9:20 AM by julie

Wangari Muta Maathai is an environmental and political activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". She is the first African woman to receive the award, and the first woman in East or Central Africa to earn a doctorate.

Wangari Muta Maathai was born on April 1, 1940 in Nyeri, Kenya. She is the daughter of farmers from the highlands of Mount Kenya, and a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group. Maathai went to Ihithe Primary School before moving to Loreto Convent Secondary School in Limuru.

After finishing school in Kenya, Wangari Maathai obtained a degree in Biological Sciences in both the United States and Germany. She received her Bachelor's from Mount St. Scholastica (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, Kansas in 1964. She then earned her Master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh before returning to Kenya. After earning a Ph.D. – the first awarded to an East African woman - from the University of Nairobi, she became professor of veterinary anatomy. Later, she chaired the Department of Veterinary Anatomy (1976) and served as an associate professor (1977) In both cases, she was the first woman to attain such positions in the region.

Wangari Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya from 1976 to 1987, and served as chair from 1981 to 1987. In 1976, she advocated the planting of trees to conserve the environment and improve the quality of life. She also continued to develop the National Council of Women into a broad-based, grassroots organization. Through the Green Belt Movement, she has helped women plant more than 20 million trees on their farms and at schools and church compounds.

In December 2002, Professor Maathai was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote. She served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources from January 2003 to November 2005. In 2005, Wangari Maathai was elected Presiding Officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union. In 2006, French President Jacques Chirac awarded her France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur.

Wangari Muta Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She and the Green Belt Movement have received numerous awards, most notably the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Professor Maathai was also added to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Global 500 Hall of Fame and named one of the world's 100 heroines. In June 1997, Wangari Maathai was elected by Earth Times as one of 100 persons in the world who have made a difference in the environmental arena. Professor Maathai has also received honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions around the world.
Resources:

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/maathai-bio.html

http://greenbeltmovement.org/w.php?id=3 - sorry, link no longer available

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangari_Maathai

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/wangarimaathai/p/wangari_maathai.htm

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Power-User
Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - New Member Kenya - Member - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Eldoret, Kenya
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Re: Wangari Muta Maathai (April 1, 1940 - )

03/02/2012 8:30 AM

RIP Waangari Maathai. Fondly remembered for your efforts to stand for Ecological responsibilty and pro-activity in the face of an irresponsible and greedy government.

http://www.wgbh.org/programs/POV-142/episodes/Wangari-Maathai-Talks-About-Development-30224

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