Wangari Maathai - Environmentalist, Kenya
“African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as strength, and to be liberated from fear and silence.” That’s what Wangari Maathai said once.
Those words didn’t shock anyone, given her drive as an African woman and her relentless fight for women’s liberation. Little wonder, then, that Wangari was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree.
But her international recognition was for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. The Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977, has planted over 45 million trees around Kenya so far, a feat that earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
In her own words: “Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.”