District Care System of Bogotá, an Innovative Territorial Public Policy Strategy for Colombia

Ana Isabel Arenas

The government of Bogotá has structured a territorial system of care with a gender perspective within the framework of a feminist approach and the coordinated work of various city entities. The speed of the implementation of the District Care System, SIDICU (Sistema Distrital de Cuidado), expresses the political will and commitment to create a public policy agenda in which care is the central axis, and that is an example for the country to follow, by implementing care systems in all territories.

This contrasts with the National Care System SINACU (Sistema Nacional de Cuidado), which has been in a stage of technical planning of a baseline for seven years, but no effort has been set towards its implementation, nor any action performed on the subject at the national level. Even evidencing its importance due to the consequences of the pandemic that has considerably increased the time devoted to unpaid care work by women in their homes.

Bogotá’s District Care System seeks to address public policy actions to reduce paid and unpaid care work. Its impact is clear regarding both the paid and unpaid care of people who, due to their age or advanced needs, require support for daily life activities –children under the age of 12, the elderly, sick individuals, or those with disabilities. Initiatives addressing unpaid domestic work are on the agenda, as this work is usually forgotten by most of the care systems in the region. The provision of food and household chores constitutes the largest unpaid care work load for women, which is why policy actions to reduce the time and effort put by women into this work are needed, such as the community service washing machine scheme in the Usme Care Block, the borough of Usme being among the ones where poverty has the highest incidence, and houses hardly have washing machines. Therefore, it is recommended that these kinds of initiatives are identified and replicated along the city's diverse territories, identifying specific needs so that they can generate a positive impact on the caregiver population.

A substantive challenge faced by the District Care System is in the set of actions needed to influence the transformation of social imaginaries or the assignation of gender roles, in particular those matching women mainly with care work. There are high expectations in this regard. It is expected that the strategies implemented by the administration will take a step towards the transformation of the sexual division of labor and reduce, redistribute, and recognize unpaid care work, the economic contributions made mainly by women, and the indispensable contribution that these tasks constitute for the functioning of society and the sustainability of life. 

The government of Bogotá has structured a territorial system of care with a gender perspective within the framework of a feminist approach and the coordinated work of various city entities. The speed of the implementation of the District Care System, SIDICU (Sistema Distrital de Cuidado), expresses the political will and commitment to create a public policy agenda in which care is the central axis, and that is an example for the country to follow, by implementing care systems in all territories.

This contrasts with the National Care System SINACU (Sistema Nacional de Cuidado), which has been in a stage of technical planning of a baseline for seven years, but no effort has been set towards its implementation, nor any action performed on the subject at the national level. Even evidencing its importance due to the consequences of the pandemic that has considerably increased the time devoted to unpaid care work by women in their homes.

Bogotá’s District Care System seeks to address public policy actions to reduce paid and unpaid care work. Its impact is clear regarding both the paid and unpaid care of people who, due to their age or advanced needs, require support for daily life activities –children under the age of 12, the elderly, sick individuals, or those with disabilities. Initiatives addressing unpaid domestic work are on the agenda, as this work is usually forgotten by most of the care systems in the region. The provision of food and household chores constitutes the largest unpaid care work load for women, which is why policy actions to reduce the time and effort put by women into this work are needed, such as the community service washing machine scheme in the Usme Care Block, the borough of Usme being among the ones where poverty has the highest incidence, and houses hardly have washing machines. Therefore, it is recommended that these kinds of initiatives are identified and replicated along the city's diverse territories, identifying specific needs so that they can generate a positive impact on the caregiver population.

A substantive challenge faced by the District Care System is in the set of actions needed to influence the transformation of social imaginaries or the assignation of gender roles, in particular those matching women mainly with care work. There are high expectations in this regard. It is expected that the strategies implemented by the administration will take a step towards the transformation of the sexual division of labor and reduce, redistribute, and recognize unpaid care work, the economic contributions made mainly by women, and the indispensable contribution that these tasks constitute for the functioning of society and the sustainability of life. 

Ana Isabel Arenas

Member of the International Association for Feminist Economics -IAFFE-, the Bogotá Feminist Economics Table and the Bogotá Intersectoral Table for Care Economics.

 

Feminist economist and activist. Graduated in Economics from the Universidad del Valle, Colombia. Master in Economics from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

She has completed several refresher courses and diplomas in feminist economics. Her professional career includes social management and development planning, she has delved into issues of economic and social development, gender equality, feminism and the economic autonomy of women, including the implications of the care economy.

Her work involves the interaction with public and private institutions, civil society organizations, national and international academic environments, aiming to advocate their influence in closing all kinds of economic gender gaps. She does independent consultancy both in Colombia and abroad, she is member of the International Association for Feminist Economics -IAFFE-, the Bogotá Feminist Economics Table and the Bogotá Intersectoral Table for Care Economics.