MARTHA STEWART: influential women of all time – Early Life and Reign, social and political life, major works and death

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Just2know : There is no knowledge that is not power
Just2know : There is no knowledge that is not power

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organization she founded in 1977, had by the early 21st century planted some 30 million trees. Leaders of the Green Belt Movement established the Pan African Green Belt Network in 1986 in order to educate world leaders about conservation and environmental improvement. As a result of the movement’s activism, similar initiatives were begun in other African countries, including Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe.

In addition to her conservation work, Maathai also has been an advocate for human rights, AIDS prevention, and women’s issues, and she frequently represented these concerns at meetings of the United Nations General Assembly. She was elected to Kenya’s National Assembly in 2002 with 98 percent of the vote, and in 2003 she was appointed assistant minister of environment, natural resources, and wildlife. When she won the Nobel Prize in 2004, the committee commended her “holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights, and women’s rights in particular.”

Her first book, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience (1988; rev. ed. 2003), detailed the history of the organization. She published an auto- biography, Unbowed, in 2007. Another volume, The Challenge for Africa (2009), criticized Africa’s leadership as ineffectual and urged Africans to try to solve their problems withoutWestern assistance. Maathai also has been a frequent contributor to international publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian.

MARTHA STEWART

(b. Aug. 3, 1941, Jersey City, N.J., U.S.)

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artha Stewart, an American entrepreneur and domestic lifestyle innovator, built a catering

business into an international media and home furnishing corporation, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

Raised in Nutley, N.J., Martha Helen Kostyra grew up in a Polish American household where the traditional arts of cooking, sewing, canning and preserving, house- keeping, and gardening were practiced. She started planning birthday parties for neighbour children while she was in grammar school, and she paid her college tuition by taking modeling jobs in New York City. She married law student Andrew Stewart (1961; they divorced in 1990) while studying at Barnard College (B.A., European history and architectural history, 1963); their daughter, Alexis, was born in 1965. Stewart worked as a stockbroker at a small Wall Street firm (1965–72) until she and her family moved to Westport, Connecticut, and turned their ambitions toward restoring Turkey Hill, a Federal-style farmhouse. With yeoman labour they gardened, restored, and deco- rated, acquiring the skills and the setting for books and TV shows.

After launching a catering business (1976) with a partner, Norma Collier, Stewart’s talent for innovation and presentation attracted a string of prestigious clients. Her first book, Entertaining (1982; with Elizabeth Hawes), set the tone for subsequent publications: superb art direction, gorgeous settings, labour-intensive recipes and decorating projects. In addition, she oversaw the CBS Masterworks Dinner Classics, a series of music compilations that could provide the appropriate background music for a picnic, cocktail party, Sunday brunch, or exotic meal.

Following continued success with such books as Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres (1984) and Weddings (1987), Time Publishing Ventures, Inc., teamed with Stewart (1990) to publish a monthly magazine, Martha Stewart Living, with Stewart not only as editor in chief but as the

featured personality within its pages. She began a syndi- cated television show of the same name (1993) and eventually bought the magazine from Time Warner Inc. (1997), funding the purchase with proceeds from her merchandising arrangement with Kmart, which debuted as the Martha Stewart Everyday line of household furnish- ings. Each of these business moves took her closer to her ultimate goal of creating a multichannel media and marketing firm. That goal was fully realized when Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (1999), with Stewart as chairman and chief executive officer (CEO). She became a billionaire, however briefly, with the public launch of her company.

In December 2001 Stewart ordered the sale of 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems, a biomedical firm owned by family friend Samuel Waksal. The sale of her shares, occur- ring one day before public information about ImClone caused the stock price to drop, sparked accusations of insider trading. Stewart stepped down as CEO of her firm in 2003, assuming the title of chief creative officer and appearing to distance herself from daily operations as she focused on defending herself against charges of lying and obstructing justice. Convicted in 2004 and sentenced to serve five months in prison followed by five months of home detention, Stewart urged her fans to continue sup- porting her company.

As she built her business, Stewart’s perfectionism, comprehensive knowledge, and bottomless capacity for work were not universally admired. She was censured for setting an impossible model for harried working mothers, and her glorification of a home-centred existence seemed to some a step backward for women. But her fans were legion, and many criticisms were swept away by the personal appeal that made her company a commercial success.

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