We talked to Professor Wangari Maathai winner of the Nobel peace prize in a special edition of our global phone-in programme Talking Point.
Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai received her Nobel Peace Prize on
Friday 10 December.
Professor Maathai has been given the award for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace and is the first African woman to be given the prize.
The winners of the Nobel Prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry and economics will be honoured in Stockholm, Sweden. The peace prize is traditionally given in Oslo, Norway.
Do the Nobel Prizes matter? How does the Nobel Peace Prize contribute to the world peace?
Talking Point with Professor Wangari Maathai will be broadcast on BBC World Service and BBC World television on Sunday 26 December at 1406GMT.
This debate has now been closed. Here are some of your comments:
Wangari Maathai's achievement towards world peace is very significant. Her environmental work led to her core philosophy that human rights improvement is tightly coupled with environmental protection. One cannot exist without the other in a sustainable fashion. Peace can flourish where people are happy within their environment and have basic rights upheld.
Clive, Milwaukee, USA, Ex- Kenya
I am very pleased for Wangari Maathai. She is an incredible inspiration for many people, and I for one hope that many more politicians take an example of this inspirational woman.
Stefan P, London, England
The Nobel Peace Prize certainly does matter, as it focuses much needed attention and publicity on various issues which are too often ignored. Moreover, the prestige of the Nobel Prize tends to exert a sort of "moral pressure" on the international community to solve very real problems, particularly in the developing world.
Ray Doherty, Waitsfield, USA
Though Professor Wangari Maathai has suffered, how did she contribute to "world peace"? This prize use to be reserved for something worldwide. It has now been taken over by winners whom struggle only for their region. There are many out there who have really made medicinal breakthroughs and have saved thousands, but there are no mention of them.
Theo Martin, Las Vegas, USA
The actions of Wangari Maathai have proven to be important as a means to support our world's fledgling environment. However, her actions significance are relegated strickly to this evironmental field and unlike past Nobel Peace Prize winnners serve no notice to actual world peace.
Ashton Williams, Jackson, USA
Professor Wangari Maathai deserves to be rewarded with the Nobel Peace prize. I salute her dedication and hard work towards improving the environment in her country. She has set a norm for other to follow.
Shiraz K Satarawala, Mahabaleshwar, India
The Nobel Peace Prize is something I would daydream of winning when I was a child. It will always matter, because it encourages the best in all of us around the world. Congratulations to Professor Maathai for being our hero and keeping our dreams alive especially when so much attention is given to the negative influences in the world.
Cindy Sullivan, Portland, USA
It is said Professor Maathai was once criticised for being: "too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn and too hard to control". Well, thank God she was and long may she continue to be so and inspire other women to be the same.
Lynda Finn, Waitakere, New Zealand
She was beaten and humiliated in the streets of Nairobi by the Kenyan police on the orders of the State however with her courage and beliefs she is now a world leader and a true African hero. Mama you are our true role model.
Ahmed Sheikh, London, UK
African American role models are usually pop stars and star athletes flashing jewellery and fancy clothes. Now we have a humble and uncomplicated woman showing us how we can still be "stars" without the flash. Thank you Wangari Maathai!!
Avalon, Arima, Trinidad
Many happy returns to Wangari for this award and to the awarding Committee. It is important that our struggles for positive change, however marginal they may seem in the grand scheme of life, do not go unnoticed. It is a great relief that the environment finally features, yet sadly not on its own right but as an appendage to peace.
Professor Maathai does indeed seem a worthy winner. Unfortunately, I don't see how many of the previous winners have made much of a contribution to world peace, so in general it seems like a meaningless political award.
Paul F, Houston Texas
Wangari Maathai's long struggle to achieve a goal has not gone unnoticed, she does not make only Kenyans proud but also all the environmentalists and the green peace activists in the whole world.
Julius Muge, Kristinehamn, Sweden
How does Nobel Peace Prize contribute to the world peace? Let's take a look at the past 100 years. Our world has witnessed the bloodiest, deadliest, most war stricken century ever in the history of mankind. I believe that the wonderful accomplishments of each Peace Prize winner have had only a localized impact on conflicts and issues.
Karl, Toronto, Canada
The best tribute we can give to this wonderful lady is to follow her example. Cut-less trees and plant more.
Jallah Kennedy, Liberian in New Jersey, USA
The world would be a better place to live if we had more Wangaris and fewer politicians. Wangari, we are proud of you!
Ibrahim A. Welye, Yola, Nigeria
The biggest problem facing Africa today is AIDS, not a shortage of trees. Yet Ms. Maathai continues to assert that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent. This award sends completely the wrong message.
Simon, Toronto, Canada
I must say that I am very proud of Wangari Maathai for winning the Noble Peace Prize. It fills me with much joy as I believe that this sends out a positive message to Africans everywhere, that they too can accomplish such things and contribute to a better world.
Ruth Dubidat, Birmingham, England
This time, Nobel committee chose a woman who claims that AIDS was invented by the west. How this woman promotes peace while spouting absurdities like that is beyond me. Many here will laud the choice simply because a woman was selected. To these mindless folk, it doesn't matter if the person is actually deserving or not, they are just glad it's a woman.
Henry, Las Vegas, USA
The Holy Quran says that Allah(God) Loves those who love mankind. May Prof Maathai's contribution to peace bring harmony all round the world regardless of cast, culture and religion.
Azhar Paracha, Karachi, Pakistan.
The Nobel committee is sending an important message to the world. Never again will aggressive male war-mongers be awarded the peace prize.
Gary Chiles, Wellington, New Zealand
Excellent job by Professor Wangari Maathai, an example has been set; it's up to us to follow.
Shamsa, Muscat, Oman
I think it is quite poor that this woman should be awarded a Nobel Prize in view of her highly questionable statements about the origins of AIDS. To say that it was a disease used as a weapon to kill black Africans is a slur to the memory of all those who have died in the West. There are many reasons why AIDS is pandemic in Africa, and the pathetic invention that it is a weapon developed by white people is not one of them.
Angie Rowland, Hove, UK
Prof Wangari Maathai's story reminds me of the words of the late US President Kennedy "Do not ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Critics should ask themselves what they have done for their country, even before they spell out Prof Maathai's name. The whole world is proud of you and may god bless you Prof. Maathai
Sanjay Menon, Dubai, UAE
This is a triumph for the African mother. Our mothers should no longer remain in the back. They should emulate Professor Maathai and put into force their great energy. Women have to push Africa forward to achieve the peace, freedom and democracy Africa dearly desires.
Gassimu Nallo, Freetown, Sierra Leone
I was all for her getting a Nobel prize till I read she claimed "''Although I am a biologist, I have not done any research. I may not be able to say who developed the (HIV) virus but it was meant to wipe out the black race". Not sure if trying to turn one culture against another is a great definition of peace.
Stephen Foster, Nepean, Canada
She is a great example to women who believe in themselves and do not allow men-dominated societies to stop them from dreaming and achieving!
Vassiliki, Washington DC, USA
I think it's great that an environmental campaigner won the peace prize. However I do think that the Nobel Prize committee should create a new prize for work done in the environmental sphere. The importance of environmental issues to mankind, nature and the planet should be recognised.
Dimitri W. Ponirakis, Ithaca, NY, USA
Giving the Peace Prize to someone who isn't even a peace activist, especially in a time of war, just shows how cut off from the realities of the world the prize committee is.
I can name hundreds, if not thousands of people more deserving of this award.
Jason Ditz, Saginaw, USA
Wangari Maathai showed how planting a tree can be a gesture of peace and liberation.
Prof. Maathai, who has defied dictatorships, corruption, and corporate greed on behalf of the Kenyan people and the land they live on, is an example for all of us.
Remmy Kinyanjui Wamweri, Oxford, UK
I am very proud of professor Maathai's achievement especially as a woman and as an African. This Noble Peace Prize is beyond an award for Africa. It is a symbol of hard work and patroitism.
It is a pointer to the outside world that Africa in the midst of its poverty can produce men and women of substance. Bravo to professor Maathai, bravo to Kenya and bravo to Africa.
Rev. Paul Bala samura, Indiana/Sierra Leone
It's high time a woman environmentalist won this prize. Can't think of a better person to get it
Connie Blaine, Salt Lake City, USA
I will join the group of those who have given this award a gender-related acknowledgement. That Prof Maathai is a woman from Africa makes a lot of difference. And I want to say to African women and women the world over that you can reach greatness beyond socio-cultural limitations.
Ferdinand Okorie, Chicago, USA
I must say that I am very proud of Wangari Maathai for winning the Noble Peace Prize. It fills me with much joy as I believe that this sends out a positive message to Africans everywhere that they too can accomplish such things and contribute to a better world.
Ruth Dubidat, Birmingham, England
Congratulations Dr Maathai, you richly deserve this award, your work is an inspiration to the whole world. Please extend your hand to us in the Caribbean where we have problems of deforestation and a decline in arable farming and water and food production. You have provided a template we can follow. Please help us to move forward - Africans everywhere need your guidance.
M Anderson, London, UK
Finally, someone in deserving of the title. It shows that Africans inevitably have the wherewithal to sort out their own problems. I know that many Africans feel proud and that they can have some impact on the issues that plague them. I think this is a model for many areas in the world to look to.
Jim, Hoboken, NJ
Wangari Maathai has struggled so hard, it is even amazing to see where she is today. She has fought for peace, environmental respect and women's rights. If people around the world knew even half of the trials and tribulations that Prof Maathai has gone through they would certainly celebrate. All the abuse she went through from the previous Kenyan government because of her strong-headed attitude paid off.. I believe there is hope for all of us African women from now on whether we are recognised on an international level or not.
This is a triumph for the African mother. Our mothers should no longer remain in the back. They should emulate Professor Maathai and put into force the great energy women have to push Africa forward to the peace, freedom and democracy Africa dearly desires and cherishes.
Gassimu Nallo, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Professor Wangari Maathai's story reminds me of the words of the late US President Kennedy: "Do not ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Critics should ask themselves what they have done for their country, even before they spell out Prof Maathai's name. The whole world is proud of you and may God bless you, Professor Maathai
Sanjay Menon, Dubai, UAE
The Nobel Prize lost its significance and credibility when it started awarding people for their political stance (such individuals as Arafat and Jimmy Carter). It's a completely useless and irrelevant committee, give the money to the people who suffer and not to the elitists.
Jack, NYC, USA
Brilliant, compelling and above all distinct, congratulations Maathai. You've done women and Kenya a tremendous favour. God bless you, Madam.
Zaphan Nyambaka, Kampala, Uganda
Now that the whole world has recognised her efforts, President Kibaki should also honour Prof Maathai by making her a full environment minister.
Henry Odicoh, Nairobi, Kenya
I highly respect Nobel Peace Prize winners but I have never seen winners in spotlight after the ceremony. I think once you win the prize you must realise that now you have more responsibility towards world population and should work harder for the peace and prosperity.
Salim Hemdani, Seattle, US
She is one of our own, I salute you Professor Wangari. Don't tire to do your work and God will always reward you, God bless you.
Samuel Ndungu Muigai, Kenya
I think it is a great honour of a fellow Kenyan woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Going up I remember they said if you cut one tree you need to plant two. I am very proud of her!
Muthoni Kori, Fairfax, VA
It's a great "leap of faith" for the Nobel Committee to finally recognise the inevitable interdependencies that sustain harmony in the universe. Prof Maathai's recognition is deserved. I can't express enough the great admiration, pride and humility that we feel for this rare honour to our very own Member of Parliament.
Francis Wambugu Ngambi, Nyeri-Kenya
The Nobel Prize is a worthwhile forum to recognize work towards peace. But when people like Yasser Arafat are awarded the prize it severely cheapens its worth and questions the process of selection.
Thomas Lohr, Chisinau, Moldova
Of all the Nobel peace prize winners the only one who continues to contribute to the world peace is Nelson Mandela. Rest have vanished.
Suraj Chhetri, Kathmandu, Nepal
How fine that Professor Wangari Maathai should win the Peace Prize. This shows there is hope for the entire Nobel Prized selection committee, which is frequently tarred with accusations of being deadly predictable and sometimes downright insulting to the intelligence - as when it chose Henry Kissinger - in its choices for this Prize.
LBM, Jersey City New Jersey NJ
The Nobel Prizes do matter. Though the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize may not have the prize as the main reason for the things they do it encourages them to do more after being awarded and others too strive even harder to emulate what the winners had done.
Kwame Danso, New York, USA
Her story really inspires me because it is another example which shows that women can change their world, can create a positive impact beyond their communities. And they don't have to be rich to be heard internationally. It shows that with some perseverance and good organisational skills women can get the message out there about what matters to them.
Sasha Henriques, Portmore, Jamaica W.I.
In as much as the Nobel prize is highly revered, it would have been very effective in contributing to world peace if the emergence of a winner from a particular continent or country brings further searchlight to the area or continent so as to rescue other areas prone to such degrading environment and chaotic conditions. Furthermore, I feel that the selection may be flawed because some credible persons who ought to have won it have been relegated to the background.
Kingsley Chimaobi Iheanacho, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
When Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize, it was obvious that it was purely political and meaningless. That's when I lost all respect for it.
The world has been on notice that the Nobel Peace Prize is a joke since it was awarded to Le Duc Tho (although he at least had the decency to turn it down), and then later to Yasser Arafat (who didn't).
Jeremy, Regina, Canada
Congratulations on your Nobel Prize!! Are you part of any women's organisation? If so, what have you done to improve the lives of women in your country?
Alusine Jah, Philadelphia, USA
After 40 years of independence, the people of Wajir are still using buckets as toilets, 100's of people die every year of waterborne diseases that can be solved. What can you do in your power to bring the world to see this?
Ahmed Ugas, Minneapolis, USA
Given your record, most of us know you are well worth your prize. My concern is the increasing numbers of international horticultural companies coming to Africa to do business. How do we protect the African landscapes?
Kinoti Meme, LA, USA
Winning the Nobel Prize is a great inspiration for women all around the world especially young African women who belong to a culture that is slowly embracing the importance of education and women's rights. What kind of advice would you offer young African women, such as myself, who are studying abroad, and want to give and do so much for their country, yet do not see any opportunities to do that?
Manza Agovi, Accra, Ghana
Congratulations Noble laureate! We met at Columbia University, NY this summer 2004. How can we convince the government to effectively implement more conservation strategies?
Gideon Oenga, Pearl River, New York
The fundamental issue causing all the problems of environmental destruction, elimination of species and global warming, is over-population. None of these problems can be solved until we have learned to control the population effectively. Does Professor Maathai have any ideas as to how this most difficult problem may be managed?
Peter Dewsnap, Conway, SC, USA
How can progress be made when the US remains dedicated to an economic philosophy based on an all-out war on the environment, and where it's increasingly difficult to get information due to censorship by the western corporate media, which has no loyalty to anything except the dollar? In fact, I doubt you'll even get this message.
Jon Davis, USA