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Wangari Maathai was born on April 1, 1940 in Ihithe, Kenya at the foot of Mount Kenya. She is internationally recognized for her struggle for the environment, democracy, and women’s rights. Maathai was born into a traditional peasant family as the third of six children. It was her two older brothers who persuaded their parents to send the bright girl to school. She later earned a scholarship to attend a college in Kansas in 1960 where she obtained a bachelor in biology. She pursued her studies in Pennsylvania and in Germany before she returned to Kenya. Back in her home country, she was the first Eastern African woman to complete a Ph.D. She worked as a professor of veterinary anatomy in Nairobi and became the dean of her faculty. Maathai married in 1969 and has three children. The couple divorced in the mid-1980s and her husband, Mwang Mathai, was said to have remarked that she was too strong-minded for a woman. The case went to court. Maathai was jailed...

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References/Further Readings

  • Breton, M. (2000). Women pioneers for the environment. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

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  • Maathai, W. (2006). Unbowed: A memoir. New York: Alfred Knopf.

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  • Maathai, W., & (2003). The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the approach and the experience. New York: Lantern Books.

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  • Merton, L., et al. et al. (2008). Taking root: The vision of Wangari Maathai. Marlboro, NJ: Marlboro Productions.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme (2004). Women and the environment. Nairobi: UNEP.

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Schmid, E. (2010). Maathai, Wangari Muta. In: Anheier, H.K., Toepler, S. (eds) International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. Springer, New York, NY.

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