More than 724,000 people have enrolled in training and education programs with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Women’s Economic Development initiative since it began 16 years ago.
And the impact has had a powerful ripple effect, benefitting over 2.8 million children and family members of the participants.
Those numbers are inspiring. Even more inspiring are the stories and people behind the data — like the women in our Hands to Heritage program in South Carolina. By working to create economic opportunities through the traditional art of sweetgrass basket weaving, they helped reflect on and reclaim their history, connected cultures and generations across continents, and played a role in important work on peace and reconciliation.
Led by Verna Eggleston, who heads our Women’s Economic Development program, Hands to Heritage brought together master basket weavers from South Carolina with master basket weavers from Rwanda to share stories and techniques passed down over generations. They collaboratively wove and exchanged peace baskets — one set was presented to the central government of Rwanda, while another set is now permanently exhibited at the Charleston International Airport.
The film also explores the history of the Gullah people in Charleston, South Carolina and the culture and art of weaving baskets, which dates to the 1700s and represents one of the oldest West African art forms in America.