In December 2020, Bogotá launched an updated Public Policy for Women and Gender Equity (PPW&GE). It responds to the historical confluence of diverse factors such as the positioning of the international agenda on women’s rights, the influence of women’s social movement and its organizational expressions, and the political will of different local governments. This is especially pertinent given the election of the first woman Mayor of the City, Claudia López Hernández.
Having a woman as Mayor makes a huge difference in understanding the needs of women and making public policy decisions in their favor. She has positioned strategic issues in the center of the public, programmatic, and budgetary agendas of Bogotá. Namely, prioritizing gender equity; the experience of being a woman; human rights; the incorporation of gender, diversity, and intersectionality; and care as a public and social responsibility.
The PPW&GE is the result of a progressive exercise that has positioned the issues of gender and women’s rights within the city, thus making visible the potential of women, in their diversities, in the spheres of economic, political, and social life. This has been achieved by both the committed work of the women who participate actively in the organizations of civic society, and the actions of the city government that, as a tool of analysis, implement differential approaches to women's rights. This allows us to advance in our commitment to ensuring gender equality.
The updating process of the PPW&GE, which started in 2018, seeks to respond to the needs and experiences of women in Bogotá, and also to the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on society, but mainly on women.
In December of 2020, the administration of Claudia López Hernández approved an action plan outlining 11 objectives, 15 results, and 196 products, agreed upon by the 15 sectors of the administration. The action plan is a long-term planning instrument that enables the articulation of strategies, plans, and programs that will lead to greater gender equality in the city.
The PPW&GE 2020-2030 compiles the voices, visions, and experiences of more than 5,428 women who participated in consultation mechanisms and is backed by the social movement of women in Bogotá. Its main objective is to “recognize, guarantee and reestablish the rights of women in their differences and diversities who inhabit the city, in a way that the unfair and evitable conditions of discrimination, inequity, and gender subordination in the public and private spheres, are modified progressively and sustainably.
This public policy also envisages the eight objectives that have been historically prioritized by women, namely, the right: to peace; to a life free of forms of violence; to education; to economic rights; to health; to participation; to being educated in a non-sexist manner; and to live in a culture free of sexism. Likewise, it incorporates three new objectives with the purpose of building a new social contract whereby the unpaid care work is redistributed between society, the State, and the community. It also aims to incorporate the gender approach in a transversal way, so that budgets, planning, and actions within the city administration answer to the needs and experiences of women. Finally, it seeks to transform and eradicate imaginaries and practices that reproduce and naturalize diverse forms of discrimination and violence against women.
The PPW&GE of Bogotá is the result of the active and collective construction of the social movement of women over the last sixteen years. This form of gradual and progressive agency has positioned Bogotá, at a national level, as a pioneering city regarding the guarantee of women’s rights and gender equality.
The impact of this is highlighted by three milestones in the path of collective action by both the women of Bogotá, as well as the feminist movement. First, the creation of the Office of the Secretary of Women in 2010, as a public entity that guides all matters related to women and gender equality in the city, and whose budget was considerably increased by 301% for the year 2020. Second, the updating of the public policy in the year 2020, which holds an estimated and approved budget of USD $638 million, for its ten years of implementation. Third, the execution of the first city-wide Care System, which is also one of the objectives of the Policy for the forthcoming ten years.
The definition of the Care System as an objective of the PPW&GE 2020-2030 also allows for a longer reach that transcends the current administration. Following a model of co-responsibility, it positions the regulation of institutional policies and actions that recognize, redistribute, and reduce the burden of care work that has traditionally fallen on women’s shoulders.
In this way, the PPW&GE, which, as mentioned, encompasses the Care System, allows the city: a) to strengthen and widen the offer of care services for a population with higher levels of functional dependency, including the attention for early childhood, people with disabilities, old age, and those related to food subsidies; B) to develop a strategy that values and re-signifies care work; and C) implement a strategy of cultural and pedagogical change in the city, as a form of co-responsibility in the execution of care work in the homes and communities, seeking to redistribute this work between men and women, and tending to the development of new masculinities.
Finally, one cannot overlook the fact that updating the aforementioned public policy was done during a complex time for the city and for women, due to the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation phase will need to take into account the changing needs of women, and the challenges imposed by the pandemic. It will also take on the task of giving fast and effective solutions to social, economic, political, and historical struggles that disproportionately affect societies, but mainly women that conform to them.