Friday, October 08, 2004

The Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya has become the twelfth woman, and the first from Africa, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee cited Dr. Maathai "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."

Dr. Maathai has been an advocate for human rights in Kenya and for women's rights throughout Africa. She is best known, however, as the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which is responsible for planting over 30 million trees throughout Africa. The chairman of the Nobel committee, Dr. Ole Danbolt Mjoes, acknowledged that the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Maathai represented a broadening of the scope of the prize. Dr. Mjoes said, "We have expanded the term 'peace' to encompass environmental questions related to our beloved Earth."

The previous female Nobel laureates were Bertha von Suttner (1905), Jane Addams (1931), Emily Greene Balch (1946), Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan (1976), Mother Teresa (1979), Alva Myrdal (1982), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Jody Williams (1997), and Shirin Ebadi (2003).