The Care System in Bogotá: “Caring for those who take care of us”
The city of Bogotá has developed a motto: “Caring for those who take care of us” and it is brought to life through the award-winning Bogotá Care System program.
Mayor Lopez was struck by the number of women suffering from “time poverty” in her city. 1.2 million women dedicate all their time to caregiving jobs that they are not paid for. Of those women, 90% are low-income, 70% don’t graduate from high school, 33% can’t dedicate attention to personal projects or interests, and 20% have been diagnosed with an illness. Faced with this crisis, the city decided to reorganize itself spatially to lift the burden of care off these women, facilitating greater independence, personal fulfilment, and the exploration of new opportunities.
Bogotá’s Care System aims to make essential services for caregivers more easily accessible. By bringing daycare, groceries, and cleaning services closer to women, the program aims to win back their time. Women are then invited to use this newfound time to return to their own education, train for new employment, and participate in healthy activities. In the meantime, men and boys are also able to participate in classes that teach them how to cook, clean and care for their children, ultimately enabling them to contribute to household demands that are otherwise left to women to manage alone. To make this possible, the municipality has created “CareBlocks” around the city to keep essential services for caregivers within a 15-minute radius.
The city has also deployed special “CareBuses” and a door-to-door service to bring the program to harder to reach parts of Bogotá, and support women who can’t leave their homes otherwise.
The Care System is a socially just urban planning practice that focuses on three objectives: recognition of the care work women do, redistribution of care responsibilities between women and men, and reduction of unpaid care. Through this work, Bogotá sheds light on the injustice of unpaid care, and demonstrates that another, more equitable, approach to caring for our loved ones is possible.
During CHANGE’s 2022 annual summit, Natalia Oviedo, Advisor to the Secretary of Women’s Affairs, explains how this revolutionary program works.