In a world with severe climate change issues, it is great to see people standing up to speak up rather than just ignoring. It is best to consider activists gifted to the world risk all results to make sure that they bring change. For example, the policy changes that activists fueled in the past. Like, the removal of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile from ruling due to the people’s campaign, totalitarianism coming to an end in the Czech Republic when the students protested and the Mass action by the women of Liberia in 2003 that brought about the end of the Second Liberian Civil War.
Indeed, activists are gifts, and Ms Wanjira Mathai is a great gift. Ms Mathai is an activist and environmentalist from Kenya, and she is also the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute. She is mostly focused on fighting against deforestation and energy access. Her work made her recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by the New African Magazine back in 2018. She undertook a project under the World Resources Institute to run a campaign to plant 30 million trees.
In trying to understand why Ms Mathai chose activism, we are drawn back to where she started. Growing up in a family crowned with a social, environmental and political activist as her mother, she further studies biology at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is armed with a Masters in Public health and Business Administration from Emory University. And working on disease control in Africa after graduation, we can see exactly why she is so passionate about the environment.
Her mother founded the Green Belt Movement, and she now sits on the board. Previously, she served as the Director of International of Affairs for the movement. In this, she noticed that many women were game whenever they mentioned that trees should be planted, which informed her work.
Ms Mathai currently is the senior advisor of the Partnerships for Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables. She does not just promote environmental safety but also makes sure that women get empowered. She noticed that many women still use firewood to cook, causing deaths and pollution. Ms Mathai is also working on helping youths live purposeful lives to become great leaders. To educate youths, she serves as the program director at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi (WMI).
As an activist influencing change, she convinced the Environment Minister in Kenya to invest in restoring lands that have gone through deforestation. This led to her goal of planting 30 million trees.
Now, Ms Mathai is the chair of the Green Belt Movement.
She is concerned about the drying up streams, low food security, and firewood scarcity in Kenya. This is making her push more and more daily for the environment to become stable because this affects certain groups of people in Kenya.
From her activism work, we can tell that it is not just voices but also actions as landscapes in Kenya have been restored and the lives of women are getting better.
You can visit http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/ to know more about the Green Belt Movement. The Green Belt Movement has helped Kenyan women to develop an interest in the economics, social and environmental sphere of their country. The movement is also involved in planting trees, putting watersheds in places where there are degraded landscapes and speaking about how women can address the issue of climate change.
It always helps to voice out when there are deficiencies in certain areas of the community and this is why activists are valued. They are able to reach people to source for change and we are seeing these changes taking place. It is imperative that wherever we find ourselves, we should try to be sources of change and this is exactly what activists do and they should be continually celebrated for their sacrifices.
Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).