March 8th, 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. Everyone can celebrate the amazing women who have shaped us, who have cared for our world, and who work with compassion and power for our future.
I have many sheroes of international fame and of local renown. To celebrate this significant day, I would like to highlight one woman whose life has inspired mine.
Wangari Maathai -- Kenyan environmental and democracy activist who, in 1994, became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 because she was inspired by and for the common good. She embodied inspiration, persistence, patience and commitment to work on issues of forestation and reforestation in Kenya. Over the past century, forests in Kenya have diminished from 30% to 1.7% of land cover. This impacts water catchment and threatens farms.
As a mother, biological scientist, political activist, feminist, and environmentalist, she saw the need to carry out a tree planting campaign as a way to save the land. Planting seeds of hope would provide a greener, cleaner world, while improving livelihoods of women and families. By the time Wangari Maathai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, the Green Belt Movement had mobilized the planting of over 40 million trees. Not an easy path to this successful end, Maathai was threatened by men, beaten by her husband because she was “too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn, and too hard to control,” and was even jailed for treason because she dared to challenge the political regime.
What I most love about Maathai’s life is that she continued her personal mission to serve humanity by using her intelligence and great dedication to truth, without any need of attention or fame. She persevered. She worked in hundreds of communities with a spirit of oneness.
Here is her website: http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/w.php?id=59