Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was a Kenyan environmentalist and political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in her native Kenya and throughout the world. In 2004, she became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
After studying in the US and Germany, she became the first Eastern African woman to receive a Ph.D. when she was granted a Doctorate of Anatomy from the University College of Nairobi in 1971. She lectured on veterinary anatomy, became director of the Kenyan Red Cross, and founded the Green Belt Movement on June 5, 1977, World Environment Day.
In the 80s and 90s, she became involved in Kenyan Pro-Democracy efforts and fended off the police for 3 days while barricaded inside her house during a string of assassinations and mass arrests in 1992. She continued her efforts and was elected to Parliament in 2002.
She repeatedly faced jail time trying to advance environmentalism and democracy in Kenya, advance her career, and defend herself in her 1979 divorce from her husband. She died on September 25, 2011.