According to the United Nations, conflict disproportionately impacts women.
Not only is sexual and gender-based violence a war tactic, but these crimes targeted against women also spike in post-conflict countries. Despite these impacts, women continue to be excluded from peacebuilding efforts. This exclusion limits a nation’s ability to create sustainable peace, which is vital for a country to heal and develop equitable practices truly.
In Rwanda, weaving history tells the story of women working to build and maintain peace after participating in and experiencing the impacts of a war-torn and divided nation.
During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, members of the Tutsi minority group and some moderate Hutus were killed by armed militia. This 100-day massacre, fueled by ethnic divisions and unequal power dynamics that deepened through colonialism, resulted in the deaths of one out of ten people--nearly one million men, women, and children.
Amid war-torn streets, and with many of their husbands gone, women from opposing tribes gathered together to form weaving groups and make peace with one another. Basket weaving became an avenue for women to heal past wounds, support themselves and their families financially, and preserve Rwandan’s cultural traditions of weaving.
This is seen first-hand at Azizi Life, an organization in Rwanda that works with approximately 550 artisan partners, the majority of which are women. With the knowledge of Rwanda's history woven into the fabric of their craftsmanship, these women have come together to sustain both their craft and their livelihoods.