The KFW staff joins millions honoring the life and legacy of Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, who passed away this week. On Earth Day 1977, she planted seven trees to honor seven women leaders in her homeland of Kenya and, with that act, launched the Green Belt Movement.
Since that time, the Movement’s tree-planting village women turned Wangari’s seven trees into 45 million across the country. Wangari understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability.
Prof Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on sustainable development, democracy and peace. She believed that environmental degradation and unbridled development were among the roots of poverty.
As the result of her work, tens of thousands of village women who had been taught to defer to chiefs, husbands, colonial authorities, multinational corporate marketers, and gained the courage to honor their traditions and to listen to their common sense. They learned to say: We have the solutions. We can take responsibility. We can transform our villages and our nation — and our world.
Wangari Maathai was a true visionary and heroine who realized that the true battle is not about the environment, as such; the real battle takes place inside, when “ordinary people” make that internal shift — as terrifying as it might be — to realize their power.