World Stamps

U.N. honors Nobel Prize winner with April 1 stamp

Mar 16, 2022, 8 AM
On April 1, the United Nations Postal Administration will honor Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, on a €0.85 definitive stamp for use from the post office at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria.

By David Hartwig

The United Nations Postal Administration will issue a definitive stamp honoring Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai on April 1.

Maathai, a Kenyan scholar and environmental activist, served in the Parliament of Kenya and was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The €0.85 Wangari Maathai stamp is for use from the post office at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria.

“Over many decades, Wangari Maathai actively contributed to furthering the ideals and goals of the United Nations,” the UNPA said in the latest issue (No. 137) of Fascination, its bulletin for collectors. “A globally recognized champion of human rights and women’s empowerment, Ms. Maathai was a pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security.”

This stamp’s issue date coincides with the birth anniversary of Maathai, who was born April 1, 1940, to farmers in the highlands of Mount Kenya.

Maathai learned English in primary school and attended two colleges in the United States. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Mount St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, Kan., and her master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

She obtained a doctoral degree in veterinary anatomy from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. According to the UNPA, she was the first woman in east and central Africa to earn a doctoral degree.

In 1977, she was appointed associate professor of veterinary anatomy at the University of Nairobi. She also founded the Green Belt Movement during that year.

Since its founding, the Green Belt Movement has assisted women and families in planting more than 40 million trees across Kenya. According to its website, the Green Belt Movement is an “environmental organization that empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.”

In 2002, Maathai successfully campaigned for parliament in Kenya, and she served as assistant minister in the Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources until 2005. She won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace,” according to the Nobel Foundation.

In 2009, then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Maathai a U.N. messenger of peace with a special focus on environment and climate change. According to the United Nations, messengers of peace are widely recognized individuals who work to help expand worldwide awareness and understanding of the ideals and activities of the United Nations.

Other U.N. messengers for peace include Jane Goodall, Leonardo DiCaprio and Princess Haya bint Hussein. Maathai served as a messenger of peace until her death in 2011.

The team behind the UNPA stamp consists of artist Martin Morck, an accomplished and prolific stamp engraver; and designer Rorie Katz of the United Nations.

The stamp features an engraved-style portrait of Maathai.

A quote appears in German to the right of the portrait. The English translation is “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.”

In overall appearance, the stamp is similar to four other UNPA definitives: the $1.80 Mother Teresa stamp issued Aug. 12, 2021 (Scott 1277), the $2.75 Mahatma Gandhi stamp issued Oct. 2, 2019 (1227), the $1.30 Kofi Annan stamp issued May 31, 2018 (1217), and the 2-franc Nelson Mandela stamp issued July 18, 2018, for the U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland (656). The dollar-denominated stamps are for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

The Wangari Maathai stamp measures 50 millimeters by 35mm and is perforated gauge 14 by 14¼.

Cartor Security Printer of France printed 10,000 panes of 20 stamps by offset lithography-duotone.

For more information about the new stamp, visit the UNPA website or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

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