The world today mourns the passing of a visionary African woman, Professor Wangari Maathai.
Professor Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and a leading voice on the continent for human rights, women’s rights and environmental conservation.
While serving on Kenya’s National Council of Women of Kenya, in 1976, Professor Maathai introduced the idea of women planting trees in Kenya to reduce poverty and conserve the environment. At last count, the Green Belt Movement she helped to found had assisted women to plant more than 40 million trees.
She understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability. One can but marvel at her foresight and the scope of her success. She was a true African heroine.
Our condolences go to Professor Maathai’s family, to the people of Kenya, and to the countless women (and men) across Africa and the world to whom she was an inspiration.