Wangari Maathai

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Wangari Muta Maathai (1940-2011) was the first woman from Oriental Africa that got a PhD. She studied at the Benedictine College in Kansas thanks to the initiative of John F. Kennedy to make African people study in the U.S. and then she got her PhD in Germany.

Wangari was an activist and feminist who fought for women’s rights when she was at university, asking for equity of opportunities and salaries. After that, she became a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK). While listening to Kenyan women, she came to the conclusion that many of their problems had to do with the environment, so she decided to found the Green Belt Movement (1977). With this organization, she empowered communities (mostly women) to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods by planting trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, and provide food and firewood.