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People Who Make a Difference: Wangari Maathai

Born in Kenya’s Highlands, Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) worked on farms until starting school at age eight. Later, she founded the Green Belt Movement to promote environmental conservation and community development worldwide. She also helped empower Kenyan women to plant trees and halt further environmental destruction to their home. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

Words of Inspiration

“Listening to the women talk about water, about energy, about nutrition, it all boiled down to the environment. I came to understand the linkage between environmental degradation and the felt needs of the communities.” —Wangari Maathai

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