Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai in Nairobi, Oct. 8, 2004.
Kenyan environmental activist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has been awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Currently the deputy environment minister of Kenya, Maathai was praised by the committee "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."
Listen: 1997 Interview with Maathai from 'Living on Earth' with Steve Curwood
Listen: 1990 Interview from 'All Things Considered'
The 64-year-old former biology professor abandoned a career in academics to pursue environmental projects, campaign for women's rights and fight corruption in Africa. In 1977, she founded The Green Belt Movement, which has since been credited with planting 30 million trees. Other countries have adopted her methods to stave off deforestation.
Maathai is the first African woman to win the prize, which has been awarded since 1901. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.