“African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence. – Wangari Maathai (BrainyQuote)”


Wangari Maathai lived in a male-dominated society and she was lucky to be able to attend school and eventually become the first female in East Africa to obtained a PhD in 1971 and first African female to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

As a woman, she had faced the loss of a job opportunity when she first completed her Masters. She was said to be ‘ “too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn and too hard to control” by her then-husband when he filed for a divorce, showing the stereotype towards what a female should be.

During her many political campaign against Daniel arap Moi, she had been threatened with rape, genital mutilation “to force her to behave like women should” and her actions were criticised as ““un-African and unimaginable for a woman to challenge or oppose men”.

However she did not waiver and continue to fight for the environment, encouraging women and fight for democracy and human rights. She was an ecofeminist, believing that to solve global and environmental problems, that is a need to eliminate discrimination against women and gender-based stereotyping of gender role.

Ecofeminism – a philosophical and political theory and movement which combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both as resulting from male domination of society. (Wikipedia, 2017)

Although she had never made a distinction between environmentalism and feminism, her courage and determination did not only helped the environment but the lives of many, especially women. While fighting for the environment, she had also fought for women’s rights, empowering women.

“I don’t see a distinction between environmentalism and feminism,” she said in an interview at the Fairview Hotel in Nairobi shortly after accepting her (Nobel Peace Prize) award. “It’s difficult for me to differentiate whether I’m campaigning as a woman or just as a human being trying to ensure everyone gets their rights.”

(Newsweek, Interview with Wangari Maathai on 10th August 2004)

Begin her journey on fighting for women’s rights>