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Rwanda is located in East Africa and is commonly referred to as the land of a thousand hills. This small country is known for its rainforests, volcanoes and mountain gorillas.

With a population of 12 million, Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Kinyarwanda, French, English and Swahili are spoken. The country is divided into three main ethnic groups; Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between 1993 and 1994, the civil war caused about 800,000 deaths and threw two million refugees out of the country's borders.

Before the massacres, Rwanda's population density was one of the highest in Africa: 301 inhabitants per km2 in 1991, and almost a third more in the farming areas. Most Rwandans lived in rural areas on individual farms scattered in the hills; the rate of urbanization was one of the lowest in the world. Today, the countryside is deserted and the capital, Kigali, has grown from 230,000 to 860,000 inhabitants.

Local crafts have played a major role in the reconstruction of the country since 1994. The survivors of the genocide have had experiences that one cannot imagine. They have been raped, mutilated and raped over and over again. Many went into basket weaving to try to earn an income while the country was still devastated.

Basket weaving has always been very present in Rwanda, but before the war, baskets were mainly used as non-profit decoration. It was after the war that a group of about 100 women decided to start selling the baskets in local markets for a few dollars.

In spite of the atrocities they experienced, these women managed to get by by organizing themselves into cooperatives to support each other. To this day, the money earned is carefully spent on food, education and health.

The vast majority of cooperatives are found in the Gitarama region. Some have more than 300 members who weave baskets every day from sisal fibres, banana trees and other reeds. And just as in Kenya and Tanzania, basket weaving is a women's story exclusively.

The men, on the other hand, carry out basketry related to the construction of huts (ceilings), large baskets, palanquins, shields, rain caps, beehives, etc.

In the Rwandan tradition, baskets are offered at weddings, birthdays and graduations. The baskets are then proudly displayed in homes as a symbol of friendship and love. As such, each basket represents a symbol. The best known of all is the "Sunburn", also known as "hope". This image of sun or hope reflected on the Rwandan flag represents the country's collective hope for a new dawn and a better future.

Twenty-five years after the genocide, Rwanda has risen to sixth place in the latest World Economic Forum ranking on gender equality. In this ranking, Germany is only 14th. Here, women hold 40 percent of ministerial portfolios and account for more than 60 percent of the members of parliament. In the economic sector too, women are becoming more visible. For example, they are at the head of RwandAir and the Bank of Kigali, two economic powerhouses in which the Rwandan government is heavily involved.

Despite these apparent successes, there is still work to be done to achieve full parity.

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