JGI Mourns Loss of Dr. Wangari Maathai
The board and staff of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) are deeply saddened by the passing of Nobel laureate and Kenyan conservationist Dr. Wangari Maathai, a longtime friend of the Institute and a member of Jane Goodall’s International Advisory Council.
In 2004, Wangari became the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite major obstacles and threats, she was an ardent advocate for protecting forests, women’s rights and democracy. In 1977, Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement, which was initially a grassroots tree planting program aimed at empowering women and addressing deforestation. As a result of the Green Belt Movement’s efforts, more than 40 million trees have been planted across Africa.
Dr. Jane Goodall shared this note of remembrance about Wangari.
It came as a real shock to me when I learned of Professor Wangari Maathai’s death. It is hard to believe she is no longer with us. She was always so vibrant with energy and life, dressed in the glowing colours of her native Kenya. We did not meet often in person―not nearly often enough for my liking. But when we did get together, we talked the same language and shared the same determination to do all we could to make this a better world. But unlike Wangari, I was never thrown in jail because of my beliefs, nor was I beaten for being a rebel.
Wangari was an icon and a hero. She was tireless and courageous in her efforts to restore the land, to plant trees, to protect the watersheds and the streams. She was unceasing in her fight to give women a better deal.
Wangari became a gifted and eloquent speaker. The sincerity and honesty that accompanied her words inspired others to join her cause, and helped her as she lobbied governments in her campaign for humanitarian and environmental justice.
How richly she deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.
Her death is a loss to the people of Kenya, especially the women and the children, and the international conservation community.
My heart goes out to her family and friends at this time.
Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute &
UN Messenger of Peace