Name: Wangarĩ Muta Maathai
Date of Birth: 1st April 1940
At age eleven, Maathai moved to St. Cecilia's Intermediate Primary School, a boarding school at the Mathari Catholic Mission in Nyeri. Maathai studied at St. Cecilia's for four years. During this time, she became fluent in English and converted to Catholicism. She was involved with the Legion of Mary, whose members attempted "to serve God by serving fellow human beings. "Studying at St. Cecilia's, she was sheltered from the ongoing Mau Mau uprising, which forced her mother to move from their homestead to an emergency village in Ihithe. When she completed her studies there in 1956, she was rated first in her class, and was granted admission to the only Catholic high school for girls in Kenya, Loreto High School in Limuru. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica (Benedictine College) and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
Maathai taught at Nairobi, becoming a senior lecturer in anatomy in 1975, chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976 and associate professor in 1977. She was the first woman in Nairobi appointed to any of these positions.
She was a member of the Nairobi branch of the Kenya Red Cross Society, becoming its director in 1973. She was a member of the Kenya Association of University Women. Following the establishment of the Environment Liaison Centre in 1974, Maathai was asked to be a member of the local board, eventually becoming board chair. The Environment Liaison Centre worked to promote the participation of non-governmental organizations in the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), whose headquarters was established in Nairobi following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972. Maathai also joined the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK). Through her work at these various volunteer associations, it became evident to Maathai that the root of most of Kenya's problems was environmental degradation
Wangari Maathai is internationally admired for her persistence in the areas of environmental conservation, human rights, and democracy. She has taken the opportunity to address the United Nations on several occasions and has spoken at special sessions of the General Assembly on behalf of women. Maathai has been given numerous awards because of her philanthropic work with the Green Belt Movement and other organizations. The most notable award given to Wangari Maathai was the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
In December 2002, Professor Maathai received another honor when she was elected to the Kenyan Parliament with 98% of the vote. After winning the election she was appointed, by President Mwai Kibaki, as Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife in Kenya’s ninth parliament.
Wangarĩ Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". She had received a call from Ole Danbolt Mjos, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, on 8 October informing her of the news. She became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the prize.
The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience. Lantern Books. 2004. ISBN 978-1-59056-040-2.; (1985)
The bottom is heavy too: even with the Green Belt Movement : the Fifth Edinburgh Medal Address (1994)
Bottle-necks of development in Africa (1995)
The Canopy of Hope: My Life Campaigning for Africa, Women, and the Environment (2002)
Reclaiming rights and resources women, poverty and environment (2007)
Rainwater Harvesting (2008)
State of the world's minorities 2008: events of 2007 (2008)