Wangari Maathai

Dedicated to addressing the roots of social and environmental issues, Wangari Maathai has been a groundbreaking figure in both her work and in her personal life. Born in 1940 in Kenya’s rural central highlands, she studied abroad in the United States during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, and she was the first woman to earn a doctorate degree in East and Central Africa. Maathai then reconnected with the rural women of her childhood, helping her fellow Kenyans deal with the issues stemming from a degraded environment: lack of firewood and clean drinking water, soil erosion, government corruption and human rights abuses.

Maathai’s work examines symptoms, root causes and the intersections and relationships between various issues.
Read the words of Wangari Maathai >>

As a leading activist in post-colonial Kenya, Maathai has worked within the country’s government as well as publicly protested its activities.
View a timeline of Maathai’s life and of modern Kenyan history >>

Listen to an exclusive interview with Wangari Maathai, conducted in February 2009, where she speaks passionately about her childhood and her commitment to environmental, social and economic justice.


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