Empowerment Through Wangari Maathai
Empowerment Through Wangari Maathai As a woman there are many obstacles in this life. It is even harder if you are a woman that is African in a country that does not have its Independence. Even through all these obstacles Wangari Maathai succeeded and became an empowered woman. She did not let anyone get in her way even when they would throw her in Jail. Through her success she helped other women who did not have the means to succeed on their own. To get to where she ended up was a hard and long road, where the government tried to stop her multiple times. She created the Green Belt
Movement to fght the problems women faced in her native country of Kenya and to fight the government in a peaceful way without any violence. As a child Maathai saw how the world around her changed from a peaceful place to being overcome by colonist who wanted to change the way the native people lived. She was forced to change everything in order to live a better life and succeed in a country which was ruled by the British. She was born into a family who had the traditional Kikuyu customs. They were a large community that was forced out of their territories on
Mount Kenya, to make room for the British. As the British came so did change for the native peoples. They were forced to learn new religions because they were seen as savages. The British saw Maathai and her people as inferior, even though they aren’t. They set up schools so that the children and even adults could learn the new language, English, and customs. For Maathai this was an advantage since her parents actually sent her to get a catholic education at St. Cecilia’s because there were others in her family also receiving an education.
This education was not free but her family elped her in every way they could. While in school she saw how her country was trying to become independent and get a name for themselves. The Mau Mau were starting to show that they wanted liberation from the British. This was when the country was going through some really tough situations. It was even harder for Maathai since she and her mother ended up in a camp for two days. Even though she was fortunate enough to be able to leave the camp her mother was forced to stay for another seven years.
Although this happened to her in her life, she continued to o to school and eventually received a scholarship which was offered to many Africans at the time since Kennedys program was able to give this to them. This was a door that opened for her that would be the key to her future. She was able to come to the US for college. This was a wonderful gift that she needed since her life without her mother had been so bad. She knew she had to keep going since her mom had also been so strong. During college she was exposed to more political views. This is also when her country got full independence from Britain in 1963.
She ended up ttending Mount St. Scholastica College. This is when she saw that she could do something in her native country. This is when she decided to return since she was expecting a Job at the University College of Nairobi, in zoology. She was denied the job because she is a women and because of the fact that she was a Kikuyu. This was surprising since she was professionally qualified for the Job. She did not give up there and looked for a Job at the same place and got a Job at the Department of doing very well in life and met her husband Mwangi Mathai. She is a very strong oman since she was able to Juggle many things at once.
While she was helping her husband run for Parliament, she was back at school and also had her child. This was even more amazing since she became the first women to have a Ph. D in Africa. Even though she was thrown so many obstacles for being a woman she kept on fighting and never gave up. This gave her more recognition and this is when she decided to join different organizations which gave way to the Green Belt Movement. The Green Belt Movement was what started the tree planting idea. It was a way for women who id not have much power to raise their voices and be heard.
They would plant trees where the government did not want them to plant trees, which would make the government pay attention to them. This was also empowering since it helped the environment by planting trees. The environment has always been very important to Maathai. If we do not take care of the environment then we cannot move forward with bigger plans. This was good since she was also able to help women who didn’t have a lot and helped them to move forward, like she has. In many countries around he world women do not have much say in their government and they are not seen as important people in their community.
Even though everything was going well for her she had other obstacles that made things harder for her. She had a divorce after her husband left her with three children. This made things harder since there was so much sexism in Africa. Since she wasn’t happy that her ex-husband didn’t want her to have the same last name and she stood up as a woman and told the Judge, she was sent to Jail, and got out with the help of her friends. She was thrown so many bstacles from the government since her movement was against many of the things the government wanted to do. She was very strong even though there were people that did not want her to succeed.
If I could ask her some questions in person I would ask how she was able to stay so strong and not give up with so much pressure come from such strong powers in the government. It must have been so hard to not give up when people in the government and even the person she loves does not believe in her and tries to bring her down. I would also like to know how she prepared herself to be killed at any moment. In a society where men are always first and women do not matter, she could have been easily killed and no one would have cared, since all she was doing was putting pressure in the government to change.
Another question I would have asked was how she managed to raise her children when she had so many obligations. Did her children accompany her when they were young or did she have a lot of help from other woman? As a woman this book has been very inspirational to me even though our society has always treated us as third class citizens. We should not let anything get in the way of our success. It has opened my eyes to see how hard it is for women in other countries. I did not know how hard life was in Africa and how small things like planting trees could mean so much.