The District Care System: A Model of Decent Work and Gender Equality in Bogotá 

Bibiana Aído Almagro

The year 2020 was expected to be a year of renewal and acceleration of global commitments for gender equality and women's rights, considering that the year marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. This milestone established the possibility for all States to take stock and establish strategies so that SDG 5 will be achieved in the next decade, as proposed by the 2030 Agenda. In January 2020, the first female mayor of the Colombian capital began her term in Bogotá. Mayor Claudia Lopez put this agenda in her campaign as a central issue to represent the need for renewal at the local level and redouble efforts in this regard. That is how the city included the 2030 agenda in its development plan, putting policy and the District Care System at the center of its commitments.

In March 2020, in Latin America and Colombia, much of what was foreseen had an unexpected turn because of the COVID-19 pandemic, translating into worsening inequalities. In the case of Colombia, according to official data (DANE, GDP, 2020, 2021pr), the pandemic led to a contraction in national economic activity of -6.8% at the end of 2020 that has generated disproportionate impacts on the lives of women. Two structural indicators provide evidence of this: i) more than a 10-year setback in the global participation rate due to the 'expulsion' of women from the workforce, reaching, in proportional terms, levels similar to those recorded in 2009 and 2010; and ii) the highest  unemployment rate for women in the country (21% compared to 12% for men)(1), mainly affecting young women, who ended up, once again, in unpaid domestic and care work, and working in the informal sector, tasks where they already spent more than twice as much time as men before the pandemic. 

Amidst this context, the Mayor’s office of Bogotá managed to launch the District Care System with novel and innovative services, which became even more urgent due to the circumstances of the pandemic, revaluing the importance of complying with the care agenda. During very challenging circumstances, Bogotá prioritized the design and implementation of a public care policy through the District Care System (SIDICU). The system is based on: the reorganization of the existing infrastructure and investment in new facilities; the institutional articulation of the care sectors (such as health, education, mobility, culture, among  others); and in the innovation of services to guarantee the rights of both the people subject to care and the caregivers. Based on qualified economic analysis, some of the innovative approaches are: the 'blocks of care' that bring together the institutional offer; the mobile units with buses that circulate  through the neighborhoods of the city and in rural areas offering psychosocial care, recreation, and well-living services; and the promotion of a qualified home services program to reduce the burden at  homes. 

This system, linked to a process of cultural transformation focused on co-responsibility and encouraging alternatives for labor inclusion from the vision of decent work, is inspiring the country, the region, and the entire world towards the advancement of a caring society due to its multiplier effects on the economy and the improvement of social welfare. 

Bogotá is a city that has shown that care is an essential public good for the life cycle and a productive sector that generates socio-economic value. This vision implies a new paradigm of social co-responsibility that requires the participation of the State, companies, and families. In addition, this  requires active policies that allow the recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care work that falls especially on women, associated with comprehensive measures of social protection, decent work, and cultural transformation. 

The measures that the city has put in place are undoubtedly very promising steps on that path that humanity must undertake. UN Women has been honored to accompany these efforts and, we renew our commitment to continue supporting the city of Bogotá.

Footnotes:
1 DANE (GEIH, January-March 2021). 

The year 2020 was expected to be a year of renewal and acceleration of global commitments for gender equality and women's rights, considering that the year marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. This milestone established the possibility for all States to take stock and establish strategies so that SDG 5 will be achieved in the next decade, as proposed by the 2030 Agenda. In January 2020, the first female mayor of the Colombian capital began her term in Bogotá. Mayor Claudia Lopez put this agenda in her campaign as a central issue to represent the need for renewal at the local level and redouble efforts in this regard. That is how the city included the 2030 agenda in its development plan, putting policy and the District Care System at the center of its commitments.

In March 2020, in Latin America and Colombia, much of what was foreseen had an unexpected turn because of the COVID-19 pandemic, translating into worsening inequalities. In the case of Colombia, according to official data (DANE, GDP, 2020, 2021pr), the pandemic led to a contraction in national economic activity of -6.8% at the end of 2020 that has generated disproportionate impacts on the lives of women. Two structural indicators provide evidence of this: i) more than a 10-year setback in the global participation rate due to the 'expulsion' of women from the workforce, reaching, in proportional terms, levels similar to those recorded in 2009 and 2010; and ii) the highest  unemployment rate for women in the country (21% compared to 12% for men)(1), mainly affecting young women, who ended up, once again, in unpaid domestic and care work, and working in the informal sector, tasks where they already spent more than twice as much time as men before the pandemic. 

Amidst this context, the Mayor’s office of Bogotá managed to launch the District Care System with novel and innovative services, which became even more urgent due to the circumstances of the pandemic, revaluing the importance of complying with the care agenda. During very challenging circumstances, Bogotá prioritized the design and implementation of a public care policy through the District Care System (SIDICU). The system is based on: the reorganization of the existing infrastructure and investment in new facilities; the institutional articulation of the care sectors (such as health, education, mobility, culture, among  others); and in the innovation of services to guarantee the rights of both the people subject to care and the caregivers. Based on qualified economic analysis, some of the innovative approaches are: the 'blocks of care' that bring together the institutional offer; the mobile units with buses that circulate  through the neighborhoods of the city and in rural areas offering psychosocial care, recreation, and well-living services; and the promotion of a qualified home services program to reduce the burden at  homes. 

This system, linked to a process of cultural transformation focused on co-responsibility and encouraging alternatives for labor inclusion from the vision of decent work, is inspiring the country, the region, and the entire world towards the advancement of a caring society due to its multiplier effects on the economy and the improvement of social welfare. 

Bogotá is a city that has shown that care is an essential public good for the life cycle and a productive sector that generates socio-economic value. This vision implies a new paradigm of social co-responsibility that requires the participation of the State, companies, and families. In addition, this  requires active policies that allow the recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care work that falls especially on women, associated with comprehensive measures of social protection, decent work, and cultural transformation. 

The measures that the city has put in place are undoubtedly very promising steps on that path that humanity must undertake. UN Women has been honored to accompany these efforts and, we renew our commitment to continue supporting the city of Bogotá.

Footnotes:
1 DANE (GEIH, January-March 2021). 

Bibiana Aido Almagro

Onu Mujeres

UN Women

Bibiana Aido Almagro holds a PhD in Innovation and Business Administration from the University of Cádiz, Spain, (2016) and a BA in Business Management and Administration from the same University (2005). She has been granted numerous awards for her career and commitment to gender equality, including the appointment of Doctor Honoris Causa in Civil Rights, by the University of Northumbria in Newcastle (2011) and the Award for Social Involvement of the University of Cadiz granted in 2019.

Prior to joining UN Women, Bibiana occupied high-level positions in Spain’s Government, as Secretary of State for Equality (2010 -2011) and Minister of Equality (2008 -2010). From these positions, she led implementation of the Organic Law 1/2004 of Comprehensive Protection Measures against gender-based violence; as well as full implementation of Constitutional Law 3/2007 for Effective Equality between Women and Men. She also initiated the drafting and enactment of the Organic Law 2/2010, of 3rd March, on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the Strategic Plan for Equality of Opportunities (2008-2011), the Integral Plan to Combat Human Trafficking for Purposes of Sexual Exploitation (2008-2011) and the Prevention Plan against Gender- based violence in Migrant population 2009-2012, among other initiatives furthering women’s rights. 

She has extensive experience in UN Women, which she joined in 2011. She served from 2011 to 2013 as Special Advisor to Michelle Bachelet, Global Executive Director; from 2013 to 2017 as Programme Advisor for the Americas and the Caribbean based at Headquarters, period during which she was responsible for the design and development of programs to promote gender equality in the region, as well as the coordination of intergovernmental processes. Her previous position was as UN Women Representative in Ecuador, position from which she led and promoted policy and programmatic initiatives to improve the lives of Ecuadorian women.

As of March 1st 2021, she serves as UN Women Representative in Colombia.