Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai passed away Sunday in Kenya at age 71. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the prize, and is the founder of The Green Belt Movement.
The Green Belt Movement, founded in 1977, was created to help women in Kenya improve their surroundings by providing them with resources such as clean water and useable firewood as well as teach more sustainable methods to help correct environmental degredation, which she believed had a direct correlation to poverty.
One of her biggest protests was against the construction of a skyscraper in one of Nairobi’s only parks. She fought long and hard, even being beaten unconscious by police not long after the project was scrapped.
Her spirit was always powerful, even in the face of personal hardship. In 1979, her husband divorced her, claiming that she was too strong of a woman. When she lost the case and criticized the judge, she was thrown in jail. Undeterred, she forged on with her political endeavors, serving as a member of Parliament until she was forced out in 2008.
The world has truly lost an inspirational person, as Dr. Maathai was a very powerful force in the environmentalism and women’s rights in Kenya, having served as a chairperson for the Environment Liaison Centre in the the mid-seventies and as a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She was also the woman in East and Central Africa to obtain a doctorate (hers in veterinary anatomy.) She was an eco feminist superwoman and huge source of motivation and inspiration for LivLuna. Rest in Peace, Dr. Maathai.