GUEST BLOGGER: Tamara A.
I love to read. More specifically, I love to read uplifting non-fiction. Who doesn’t like to hear about amazing feats and accomplishments that actual happened? It seems that I always gravitate towards stories of travel and women. And while I don’t read as much as I would like to, I did try joining a travel book club for a couple months (before I realized that I couldn’t keep up with the reading) and read a great autobiography that I have passed on to several friends called Unbowed.
Unbowed is a memoir written by Wangari Maathai, an activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a phenomenally strong woman. I never really get sick of hearing stories about intelligent women who push the envelope in their own right. Whether they are fighting for the rights of women or a different subgroup, seeing women in an influential role is inspiring. As women, we love to celebrate the obstacles overcome by our gender. More important is recognizing those obstacles that still exist, here and/or abroad.
Born in Kenya, Wangari had the opportunity to be educated in the United States. A quality education, coupled with a strong desire to create opportunities for women, influenced Wangari to fight for change within her country. She returned to Kenya following her schooling and worked as one of the few female professors at the time. Becoming the first female head of her department, Wangari began her campaign for equal treatment and benefits for the female staff members at the university level.
From there, Wangari’s efforts only grew. She continued a more public fight for women’s rights, but also attached herself to the fight for environmental restoration and rebuilding the natural settings that their communities had once relied on. Her main project was replanting trees. This was a significant step to Wangari as it sought to reverse the effects of deforestation (soil erosion and lack of water) and at the same time, realigned the communities’ efforts.
As Wangari put it, “The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple act of planting a tree, we give hope to ourselves and to future generations.”
The Green Belt Movement was formed and is still alive and kicking. It has even grown to have an international arm now. And it is run entirely by women.
If there was ever a doubt in your mind about the strength of a single person, Wangari Maathai’s story will eliminate that. We need people like her in this world to show us what can be accomplished and to motivate us to strive to be better, to make things around us better. Wangari is an excellent example of what persistence and belief can achieve.
Support Wangari’s mission through The Green Belt Movement. Visit them at http://www.greenbeltmovement.org
Information and photo was taken from The Green Belt Movement’s website.