Wangari Maathai passes away

News 26.09.2011

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Right Livelihood Award Laureate Wangari Maathai passed away at the Nairobi Hospital on 26 September 2011, according to her family. Prof. Maathai had long been struggling with cancer.

Wangari Muta Maathai was born on 1 April 1940. She started the Green Belt Movement in 1977, working with women to improve their livelihoods by increasing their access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. She became a great advocate for better management of natural resources and for sustainability, equity, and justice – a work that put her at considerable risk during the authoritarian rule of President Moi. In 1984, she received the Right Livelihood Award for converting the Kenyan ecological debate into mass action for reforestation. Twenty years later, in 2004, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Right Livelihood Award Executive Director Ole von Uexkull said: “The Right Livelihood Award Family has lost one of its most prominent members. Wangari Maathai was an inspiration to the whole world as well as to her co-Laureates. She always used the power of her commitment and her longstanding experience to strengthen others. Our thoughts are with her family. Wangari will live on in the memories of her colleagues … and in the millions of trees she helped plant in Kenya.”

Wangari Maathai’s organisation, the Green Belt Movement, wrote: “Professor Maathai’s departure is untimely and a very great loss to all who knew her – as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine; or who admired her determination to make the world a more peaceful, healthier, and better place.”

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