The Green Belt Movement

The Fight for Kenyan Women and Nature

Luana Q.

Ecological Problems Appeared in Kenya

In the mid 1970’s Dr.Wangari Maathai noticed that nature was dying in Kenya. Many water streams and watersheds that she knew as a child were not there when she went to visit her home in Nyeri, Kenya. Women were complaining on how they had to walk longer for water, for firewood, and for food supplies. This is all because that many forests were being cleared for for farms and plantations and also because new trees to Kenya grounds were being planted and were draining the water and destroying the soil. These problems gave Dr. Maathai the idea of the Green Belt Movement.

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The Importance of trees in Kenya

In most of Kenya especially in rural areas trees are very important to the people there. Dr. Maathai once said that “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation.” People in Kenya were blind, they were cutting trees but did not know they needed them. Trees give us many resources such as oxygen, water, wood, and sometimes food supply. Trees also help give nutrition for soil. Dr. Maathai saw these problems and saw how important trees are, but because of that, she founded the G.B.M. (The Green Belt Movement)

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The Fight for Women’s Rights

For many years many of the problems of Kenyan women remained unsolved and were ignored, especially from the government of President Moi. With the help of people like Wangari Maathai, the women’s groups becoming organized and gaining power, catching the eye of President Moi and other government leaders. In 1992 Wangari Maathai and a group of other women led a hunger strike in Uhuru Park demanding the release of political prisoners. Despite violent attacks they continued their protest for 11 months. Finally their persistence was rewarded and the prisoners were released. At last women were proving that their voices were being heard.

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What’s Happening Now?

Today the G.B.M. has planted over 30 million trees in Kenya. Dr.Maathai’s idea was a huge impact to not only Kenyan citizens but to enough people in the world for her to win the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. The new trees that have been planted has helped many Kenyan citizens and Kenyan nature. Today even after Dr.Maathai’s death in September 25th, 2011 the G.B.M. is still in action.

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This is Dr. Wangari Maathai, the founder of The Greenbelt Movement

Wangari Maathai Tribute Film

Where is Kenya?

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