At the National Business Association, we are convinced that recognizing the role and importance of women in the productive sector is one of the core goals we have as a society. Consequently, we work every day jointly with our associates to contribute towards closing the poverty and gender gaps.
The figures that show these gaps in gender equality are compelling. Undoubtedly, one of the most conspicuous economic impacts of COVID-19 has been the deepening of these gaps. 2020 was a setback year in terms of employment in Colombia and much more for women. Whereas male unemployment rate ended the year at 12.8%, female unemployment rate reached unexpected levels of almost 21% on average.
Likewise, numbers are worrying for women who left the labor market to dedicate themselves to housework. According to the latest results of a national survey carried out by the National Statistics Bureau (DANE) on leisure time, between September and December 2020, in cities and urban areas, women spent on average 10.32 hours a day on unpaid work activities, while men spent 4.36 hours. Simultaneously, men spent 9.28 hours on paid work activities per day and women 8.13 hours. This directly impacts their ability to develop their life projects freely; a trend that worsens in rural areas.
Thereby, ANDI has recognized the importance of deepening the concept of the “Economía del Cuidado”, the “care economy”. "The country definitely needs public-private strategies that stimulate a recovery in employment from an inclusion and flexibility perspective, and where, undoubtedly, gender equality is one of the priorities." (1)
In Bogotá, we have already begun the task of strengthening the social fabric of the city and the care economy. ANDI's Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Boyacá Section, consolidated an alliance with Bogotá’s Mayor's Office in order to be a relevant actor in the strategy of the District Care System, and in order to bring the offer of services from the private sector to areas of the city in which women have a significantly higher burden of home care than men. The above in order to reduce and redistribute the work time of unpaid labor.
One of the first results of this alliance took place in the care block of the borough of Usme. There, ANDI played a fundamental role in articulating the supply of the private sector and with the support of Whirlpool, it equipped the first community laundry of the District Care System with five washing and five drying machines. This promises to be a reference for future Care Blocks in the city and even in the country, given its relevance for the redistribution of time and work for thousands of women, who currently carry out this work manually.
The laundry will benefit 850 female-headed households in Usme. By reducing the amount of hours women spend washing clothes by hand, this will allow them to free up time that they can now invest in improving their life quality or training and learning; as well as contributing to develop their life projects.
This is undoubtedly an important step to generate actions and initiatives that foster adequate scenarios to contribute to prosperous, equitable, and inclusive societies. Bogotá’s business community has reaffirmed its commitment and interest in working in an articulated way with public and private entities and other organizations, so that more and more women have practical and tangible solutions that allow them to enter the labor market, to be trained in long-term associative and entrepreneurial structures, and thus, progressively, to eradicate the barriers imposed by gender equity gaps.