While working with the National Council of Women of Kenya, Wangari Maathai developed the idea that village women could improve the environment by planting trees to provide a fuel source and to slow the processes of deforestation and desertification. The Green Belt Movement, an organization she founded in 1977, had, by the early 21st century, planted some 30 million trees and inspired similar grassroots movements in other African countries.
Maathai was elected to Kenya's National Assembly with 98 percent of the vote in 2002 and in 2003 was appointed assistant minister of environment, natural resources, and wildlife. The Nobel Prize committee commended her "holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular." She is the author of The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.
(c) 2007 The University of Chicago. Recorded as a part of The World Beyond the Headlines series, a collaborative project of the Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores. The series aims to bring scholars and journalists together to consider major international issues and how they are covered in the media.
Recorded Sunday, September 23, 2007 at University of Chicago.