Wangari Muta Maathai (born April 1, 1940 in Ihithe village, Tetu division, Nyeri District of Kenya) is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.
Maathai was born in the village of Ihithe, Nyeri District, in the central highlands of British controlled Kenya on April 1, 1940. Her family was of the Kikuyu ethnic group, the most populous ethnic group in Kenya, and had lived in the area for several generations. Around 1943, Maathai's family relocated to a white-owned farm in the Rift Valley, near the town of Nakuru,