Today, in many countries it’s National Tree or Nature Day, which was established in 1996. I think that not only today we should connect to nature by planting a tree and be aware that it’s helping our natural environment; it should be every day.
Many initiatives of planting trees had been created by powerful women and organizations founded by women from different parts of the planet from Africa to Asia, America to Europe, and Australia. The core point is that women can help to save our mother Earth.
“A tree has roots in the soil yet reaches to the sky. It tells us that in order to aspire we need to be grounded and that no matter how high we go it is from our roots that we draw sustenance”. Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was a Kenyan professor, environmentalist and political activist, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. Since its foundation, it has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya and involved women in decision-making processes.
She also was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador to the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem by eleven Heads of States from the Congo region.
Moreover, she wrote four books: The Green Belt Movement, Unbowed: A Memoir, The Challenge for Africa, and Replenishing the Earth.
Maathai obtained several awards among which are:
2010: Earth Hall of Fame Kyoto, Japan.
2007: The Nelson Mandela Award for Health & Human Rights, South Africa.
2004: One of the 100 Most Influential People in the World: Time magazine, USA.
I remember how excited I was in 2004, when I heard that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was the first African woman to win this prize. It was given for her hard work in combating poverty reduction and the conservation of the environment by planting trees. The Norwegian Nobel Committee noted “professor Maathai’s contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.”
Another outstanding woman that has done a lot for nature is Saalumarada Thimmakka, who is over 100 years old and from Gubbi, the southern part of India. She started to plant trees after she and her husband found out that they couldn’t conceive a child.
In an interview given to Aljazeera in 2013, she said: “One day we thought why not plant trees and tend to them like we would to our children.”
Thimmaka is a role model environmentalist in India and worldwide. She has received several awards, honours, and cover from the press for her prestigious work in planting and taking care of hundreds of bayan trees on the highway between Hulikal and Kudur, covering a total of four kilometres. Besides, planting bayan trees, Thimmaka has also planted over 8000 other trees with the support of her husband.
In many countries like Kenya and India, deforestation is a huge problem, and the main reason why these women have worked hard to give back to the forest what human beings have taken; but not every country has the same issue.
12 years ago when I arrived in Finland for the first time, I was amazed of the amount of forest it has. When you drive from one city to another, some road feel endless because there are just trees and more trees that you see. According, to the Future Brand’s Index, Finland’s natural beauty is rated the third-highest in the world.
Personally, I enjoy nature in this country. It does not matter what season of the year it is, I like to visit the forest. Two summers ago, I visited Nuuksio National Park for the first time. I remember that I was so glad to have an abundance of nature that I hugged a tree and felt the energy.
Finns have a lot of respect for their nature as well. A lot of them go there to relax, feel a connection with nature, be secure and have a moment of serenity. They also go to pick berries and mushrooms. I learned this hobby, as well and it is one of my favourites during the summer season.
Next time you want to work with your hands, I advise you to get them dirty by planting a tree for the next generation and giving something back to our mother nature.
Do you know a woman in your community that does a similar work as Maathai and Thimmaka? Share the story with us.