The Nobel Peace Prize’s First Black Female Winner


Wangari Muta Maathai | Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Wangari Maathai Receives the Nobel Peace Prize

Wangaari Maathai receives the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded for environmental protection (2004) for decades of work with the Green Belt Movement

Wangari Muta Maathai was the first African and Black woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  The Kenyan, received the award “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.  She was the first environmentalist to receive the award  and was known for her work as a social and political activist.   Her organization “The Green Belt Movement” was connected with the planting of over 30 million trees in several African countries.  She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, 2004.

Maathai was educated in the United States , Germany and Kenya.  In 1964 she received her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas and later a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966).  Her doctoral studies were done in Germany and the University of Nairobi, where she was received her  Ph.D. in 1971.

Maathai was elected to Kenya’s Parliament and also served from January 2003 until November 2005 as the Assistant Minister for Environmental and Natural Resources during the administration of President Mwai Kibaki.   

Educator, environmentalist, social and political activist for women’s rights in Africa, Maathai lived a life of service to her continent and the world.  She was divorced with a daughter (Wanjira Mathai).  Maathai died from complications of ovarian cancer on September 25, 2011 at age 71 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Words That Matter

Wangari Muta Maathai

"We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all."

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