World Who's Who Routledge - Taylor and Francis Group





MAATHAI Wangari Muta BS, MS, PhD
Kenyan ecologist, international organization official and politician

Date of birth: 1 April 1940


Place of birth: Ihithe village, Tetu Div., Nyeri District


Date of death: 26 Sept. 2011


Parentage: d. of Muta Njugi and Wanjiru Kibicho


Family: m. Mwangi Maathai 1969 (divorced 1980); three c.


Education: Loreto Convent Secondary School, Limuru, studied biology in USA and Germany, Mount St Scholastica (now Benedictine Coll.), Univ. of Pittsburgh, Univ. of Nairobi


Career: Dean of Faculty and Chair. Dept of Veterinary Anatomy, Univ. of Nairobi 1976, appointed Assoc. Professor of Veterinary Anatomy 1977; founded Maendeleo Ya Wanawake ( Nat. Council of Women of Kenya) 1964, Chair. 1981–87; Dir Kenya Red Cross 1973–80; Founder and Co-ordinator Kenya Green Belt Movement 1977–2002, Founding Chair. Green Belt Movement International 2005–11; Founding member GROOTS Int. 1985; imprisoned several times during regime of Daniel Arap Moi for demanding multi-party elections and an end to political corruption and tribal politics; former member Forum for Restoration of Democracy; presidential cand. 1997; MP (Nat. Rainbow Coalition) for Tetu Constituency 2002–07; Asst Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife 2003–05; founded Mazingira Green Party of Kenya 2003; first Presiding Officer Econ., Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC) 2005–07; cand. in Parl. elections December 2007; member Advisory Bd Clinton Global Initiative, UN Sec.-Gen.’s Advisory Bd on Disarmament Matters, UN Commission on Global Governance, advisory bd Democracy Coalition Project, Earth Charter Commission, Selection Cttee Sasakawa Environmental Prize, United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya; member Bd of Dirs Women’s and Environment Devt Org., World Learning, Green Cross Int., Environment Liaison Centre Int., Kenya, WorldWIDE Network of Women in Environmental Work, Nat. Council of Women of Kenya; Montgomery Fellow, Dartmouth Coll., USA 2001; Dorothy McCluskey Visiting Fellow for Conservation, Global Institute for Sustainable Forestry, Yale Univ. 2002; Goodwill Ambassador, Congo Basin Forest Initiative 2005–11; Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative; Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International


Honours and awards: Hon. FRIBA 2008; Hon. Councillor, World Future Council; Order of the Golden Ark (The Netherlands) 1994, Elder of the Burning Spear (Kenya) 2003, Chevalier, Légion d’honneur 2006; Hon. LLD (Williams Coll.) 1990, (Yale Univ.) 2004, Hon. DSc (Hobart Coll.) 1994, (William Smith Coll.) 1994, (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) 2004, (Soka Univ. ) 2004, (Univ. of Nairobi) 2005, (Willamette Univ.) 2005, (Ochanomizu Univ.) 2005, (Morehouse Coll.) 2006, (Egerton Univ.) 2007, Hon. DAgric (Univ. of Norway) 1997, Hon. DHumLitt (Connecticut Coll.) 2006, Hon. Dr Public Service (Univ. of Pittsburg) 2006; Woman of the Year Award 1983, Right Livelihood Award (Sweden) 1984, Better World Soc. Award 1986, Windstar Foundation Award for the Environment 1988, WomenAid Women of the World Award (UK) 1989, Benedictine Coll. Offeramus Medal 1990, Goldman Foundation Environmental Prize 1991, UN Hunger Project Africa Prize for Leadership (co-recipient) 1991, Medical Research Council Edinburgh Medal 1993, Jane Addams Conf. Leadership Award 1993, Endowed Chair in Gender and Women’s Studies named ‘Fuller-Maathai’, Connecticut Coll. 2000, Temple of Understanding Juliet Hollister Award ( USA) 2001, Kenyan Community Abroad Excellence Award ( USA) 2001, Bridges to Community Outstanding Vision and Commitment Award (USA) 2002, World Asscn of Non-Governmental Orgs (WANGO) Environment Award 2003, Columbia Univ. Centre for Environmental Research and Conservation Scientist Award 2004, Arbor Day Foundation J. Sterling Morton Award 2004, Heinrich Boell Foundation Petra Kelly Environment Prize 2004, Sophie Foundation Prize 2004, Nobel Peace Prize 2004, New York Women’s Foundation Century Award 2005, Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund Award 2006, Int. Asscn for Impact Assessment (IAIA) Global Environment Award 2006, Indira Gandhi Int. Award for Peace, Disarmament and Devt 2006, World Citizenship Award 2007, Cross of the Order of St Benedict, Benedictine Coll., Kan. 2007, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for Int. Understanding 2007, Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights 2007, NAACP Image Award (Chair.’s Award; co-recipient) 2008


Achievements include: one of the eight flag bearers at Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, Turin, Italy 2006


Publications include: Bottom is Heavy Too: Edinburgh Medal Lecture 1994, The Canopy of Hope: My Life Campaigning for Africa, Women and the Environment 2002, The Greenbelt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience 2003, Unbowed: A Memoir 2007, The Challenge for Africa 2009


Leisure interests: swimming, reading






back to top