Cameroon’s Cecile Ndjebet wins Wangari Maathai Award

APA – Yaoundé (Cameroun)

The sixth winner of the Wangari Maathai Award has been announced at 15th World Forestry Congress.

Activist Cecile Ndjebet, a native of Cameroon, won the 2022 Wangari Maathai Champions of Forests Award on Thursday, May 5, for her outstanding contribution to conserving forests and improving the lives of the people who depend on them. Presented by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which is chaired by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the award was presented during a ceremony at the 15th World Forestry Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

“This award recognizes Cecile Ndjebet for her energy and commitment over 30 years to the promotion of women’s land and forest rights. As an activist, she has shown that women’s participation in forest governance and conservation is fundamental to achieving sustainable forest management,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO deputy director-general and president of the PCF, in a statement received Thursday by APA.

In Cameroon, nearly 70 percent of women live in rural areas and depend, at least in part, on the harvesting of wild forest products for their livelihoods. However, in some communities, they are not recognized as having the right to own forest land, to inherit it upon the death of their husbands or even to plant trees on degraded land, the same source said.

Ndjebet has worked tirelessly to promote the idea that women should participate in forest management and have equal rights to land. Through the African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management, which she co-founded in 2009, she has become a leading figure in Cameroon and internationally for global recognition of the importance of gender equality in forest management. Currently, the organization has 20 member countries across Africa.

“In general, men recognize the important role of women in improving the quality of life of families. But they also need to accept that for women to continue to play this role, or even improve it, they must have guaranteed land and forestry rights,” Ndjebet pleaded.

Established by PCF in 2012 in memory of Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, the Champions of Forestry Award recognizes individuals who have been inspired by her in their commitment to forest conservation, restoration and sustainable management.

This year’s winner met Wangari Maathai in 2009 and Maathai personally encouraged Ndjebet to continue her work for women’s rights to plant trees, according to the FAO.


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