Wangari Maathai was a trained biologist and veterinarian; but she was also the recipient of numerous awards from around the globe, the author of a long list of works, and a prominent figure since the 1970s in her home country, Kenya, in the fight against desertification and deforestation.
In 1977, she founded the “Green Belt Movement”, the largest reforestation project in Africa.
Millions of trees would be planted under her leadership.
Meanwhile, her national movement, which combines the fight for the environment with the fight for women’s rights, crossed the border via the “Pan African Green Belt Network” to become a transnational phenomenon.
The Green Belt Movement improves women’s lives by providing them with training and work and enhancing their image within society.
In 2004, Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The jury recognized her work in preserving ecosystems by praising her “holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights, and women’s rights in particular.”
Wangari Maathai’s political career was conducted with an ever-present passion to defend her vision; one that links sustainable development and the fight for peace.
Because of their common vision on the most urgent battles to carry forth for present and future generations, President Jacques Chirac has always nourished a deep friendship and respect for Wangari Maathai, inviting her to join the Fondation’s Honor Committee.
In recent years, she had dedicated herself to preserving the Congo Basin forest; the world’s second largest tropical forest and home to a number of the Fondation Chirac’s programs.
In honor of all her battles and to commemorate her courage, the Fondation wishes today to express its profound sadness, alongside all those who were close to her and all those who have worked by her side.