A Tribute to Wangari Maathai


CARE mourns the loss of Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Nobel Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, which CARE actively supported beginning in 1994.

Maathai died early Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. She was 71.

Wangari Maathai contributed to the Women Empowered book that CARE produced in partnership with photographer Phil Borges. The book highlights the plight and promise of poor women around the world.

Protecting the Environment

By Wangari Maathai

Women have always played the role of primary caregivers: of their children, their elderly parents, the family garden, and of whatever corner of the planet they live in. From the rice paddies in Thailand, to the manioc fields of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, to the rainforest gardens of the Amazonian Kayapo, it is women who tend their growth. Quietly and with determination, they plant the seeds, remove the weeds, and patiently wait for the fruit of their labor to ripen.

When the forests are cut and the lakes and rivers poisoned, when the land dries up and the rains don”t come, it is also women who bear the greater burden of providing nourishment for their families. And they must watch as their brothers, husbands, and sons fight over the dwindling resources.

In this critical moment in the history of our planet, I call on all women, young and old, of all social spheres, of all races, to take their place as soldiers and leaders in a battle far more important than any other humanity has ever fought. It is important to understand what is happening to our environment and to take action. Otherwise, the next generation of our children may grow up in a planet devoid of beauty and diversity, in a minefield of human greed. By empowering women and girls, the primary caregivers, we can fulfill our role as leaders in a global environmental crusade. Let us all step up to protect the earth, for in its survival depends our own.