Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) has left us but her work and vision will endure. The first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (2004) she redefined the concept of peace and that of the Nobel Peace Prize itself.
Maathai worked tirelessly to reverse soil erosion in her native Kenya where she founded, 40 years ago, the Green Belt Movement, an NGO that encouraged rural women to plant trees. Her work stressed the cyclical causality that links environmental degradation, food insecurity, war, and further soil degradation. She showed how environmental issues were connected to the fight against poverty, and for women’s rights and democracy.