Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Kenyan environmental activist
Friday, December 10, 2004
Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to from Kenya. She is the first African woman to win the Peace prize, and the 12th woman to win the prize since its inception in 1901. The Nobel committee cited "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace" as the reasons for awarding the prize. It is the first Peace prize awarded to an environmentalist.— The 2004
Dr Maathai is a member of parliament in Kenya, the country's deputy environmental minister, and holds ain from the University of Nairobi. For seven years she was the director of the in Kenya, and is most known for founding the — a non-governmental organization dedicated to environmental conservation and protecting forests. Since its founding in 1997, the organization claims to have planted over 30 million trees, in the process employing thousands of women — offering them empowerment, education and even family planning.
The GBM organises rural women in Kenya to participate in environmentally friendly activities such as reforestation; economically-conducive activities like eco-tourism and training in forestry and food processing; as well as community development.
On her Green Belt Movement project, Dr Maathai told theCourier in 1999, "If you want to save the environment, you should protect the people first, because human beings are part of biological diversity. And if we can't protect our own species, what's the point of protecting tree species?"
In accepting the prize, Dr Maathai said that she was humbled by the recognition and uplifted by the honor of receiving the award, and discussed social and environmental problems that still challenge Africa and the rest of the world. The award includes a cash component of 10 million Swedish Kronor (approximately US$1.4 million).
Dr Maathai's project was opposed by the Kenyan government during's rule, and Dr Maathai's demonstrations to protect the forests often met with violent resistance; eventually, she was jailed.
"The government thinks that by threatening me and bashing me they can silence me," Dr Maathai said. "But I have an elephant's skin and somebody must raise their voice."
In 1997 Dr Maathai ran for president on the Liberal Party of Kenya ticket. In 2002 — after Moi's
- Associated Press. "Nobel prize awarded to environmentalist" — , December 10, 2004
- "Kenyan collects Nobel peace prize" — , December 10, 2004
- Nobel Committee press release announcing the prize award
- Wangari Maathai's prize acceptance speech
- Geoffrey Dabelko. "Nobel of the Ball" — , October, 2004