Friday, October 08, 2004

You Go, Girl!!

OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- Kenyan Deputy Environment Minister Wangari Muta Maathai has been named winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, beating a number of much better known world names to the prestigious award.
"It cannot get any better than this -- maybe in heaven," Maathai said after learning of the award.
She had wept with delight and planted a tree in her home town of Nyeri in the shadow of Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak, when she heard the news, Reuters reported.
Maathai, 64, is the first African woman to win the prize. She was cited for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement that has planted more than 30 million trees across Africa.
Awarded the peace prize "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace," she has also campaigned for broader women's rights. (Profile)
The award marks a new environmental theme in interpreting the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who founded the prestigious prize.
Until now it has most usually gone to people seeking to end armed conflicts.
"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.36 million) and will be handed out in Oslo on December 10.
"We have emphasised the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights," Mjoes said of the prize. "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace."
Maathai's win came as a suprise to most observers. U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei had been the clear favorite.


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