Dr. Wangari Maathai’s address on campus drew a packed house to the University Union Redwood Room on Friday, Sept. 21. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner attracted more than 300 students, faculty, staff and invited high school students, all eager to hear her message.
The first woman elected to Kenya’s Parliament, Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a network of rural African women that has planted 40 million trees in Kenya since 1977. That project benefited the environment and also helped the development of greater democratic participation in that country.
A degraded environment cannot sustain a people’s livelihood, Maathai told the crowd. But she noted how difficult it is to raise concern about the world’s greater environmental problems to people who are struggling to survive from one day to the next.
And she emphasized how a just society is supported by three pillars—sustainable management of resources, good governance that incorporates human rights, and peace.
Maathai was in Sacramento as part of the California Lectures series and will attend the Clinton Global Initiative Conference Sept. 26-28 in New York City. Her autobiography, Unbowed, is part of Sacramento State’s curriculum.