Then & Now: Global Influencers of Color
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Then & Now: 10 Global Influencers of Color in Activism, Arts, Fashion and More

THEN: WANGARI MAATHAI She is Africa’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, having received the honor after becoming the first East African woman to hold a doctorate at age 70 and spending her life fighting against inequality for women and environmental exploitation of Kenya. She once was a classmate of President Barack Obama’s father as one of 300 Kenyan students given scholarships in the U.S. in 1960. In 1977, she rallied village women to plant trees to prevent deforestation and provide them their communities with fuel.

As an activist, she was beaten and jailed for protests against President Daniel Arap Moi’s government, including its plans to build a 60-story government building in Uhuru Park in Nairobi, and she was successful in rallying support, later winning a seat as an MP after getting a majority vote. She was also a staunch opponent of what she saw as the country’s selling off of its natural resources to fund infrastructure, and in 2006, she helped found the Nobel Women’s Initiative to push for peace, justice, and equality around the world.

WINNIE ASITINOW: WINNIE ASITI Winnie Asiti, a member of Global Greengrants’ Next Generation Climate Board, is a climate activist from Kenya. “I drew my inspiration from a lot of things. I joined the university environment club–through that I got to interact with other like-minded young people. In 2006, climate change negotiations were being hosted by Kenya, and we all got an opportunity as university students to go to the meetings as volunteers and as observers. We got interested in climate change negotiations and climate change work,” Asiti said in a recent interview.

She has served as a volunteer at the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, helping to plan marches, plant trees, organize conferences, attended various forums, and written about the climate and environmental issue of her country as well as Africa as a whole, citing how the challenges of global warming and infrastructure developments have affected women, children and families in rural areas. She has also served as a fellow of the African Centre for Technology Studies, and has been lauded by environmental colleagues as “the next generation of environmental leaders.”


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