Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work in Kenya, passed away at the age of 71. She was an unprecedented figure in many ways; the first Afican woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the first woman in Eastern Africa to hold a doctorate, and the visionary behind the Green Belt movement that pays women to plant trees across Kenya.
In 2005, our sister program, Living on Earth's Ingrid Lobet visited Kenya and introduced us to the basic mechanics of the Green Belt tree planting movement and its Nobel Prize winning founder. Click here to listen.
Maathai spoke with Living on Earth again in 2008. Her country was suffering through a drought and she came with an urgent message for lawmakers on Capitol Hill:
Wouldn’t it be even better to participate in supporting measures that would prevent those disasters, and not always come when one is in misery, to say, ‘I see you are dying you are on a deathbed. What can I do to help you?’ It would have been much better to help that person stay alive. And that’s what we are trying to tell the United States of America. Can you help the world before it is in the – in emergency room? (laughs).
Maathai has inspired women around the world and has helped plant millions of seeds.