Environmentalist. She won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for combining environmentalism and social activism. Maathai was the first African woman to receive the honor. Born in Nyeri, Kenya, she studied at the University of Nairobi and in 1971 became the first woman to earn a doctorate in East Africa. She later became an associate professor in that university's department of veterinary anatomy while earning additional degrees from Mount St. Scholastica College Atchison, Kansas and the University of Pittsburgh. In 1977 Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, with a mission to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion, create firewood for fuel and jobs for women. According to the United Nations, her Green Belt Movement went on to plant more than 30 million trees in Kenya and has helped nearly 900,000 women with jobs, while inspiring similar efforts in other African countries. Former US Vice President Al Gore, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said of her, "Wangari overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life of service to her children, to her constituents, to the women and indeed all the people of Kenya, and to the world as a whole". She died of cancer in Nairobi, Kenya.
Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith