‘We can all learn to care’: Colombia’s capital city wants men to do more chores at home

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>‘We can all learn to care’: Colombia’s capital city wants men to do more chores at home

Bogotá's Care School for Men aims to battle centuries of living in a culture that teaches men to focus on breadwinning instead of caregiving.

The WorldSeptember 21, 2022 · 3:15 PM EDT

At a job fair in Bogotá, Colombia, psychologist Nicolas Londoño showed groups of young men how to change a baby's diapers.  Londoño works with Care School for Men, an educational program funded by the city government. 

Manuel Rueda/The World

At a job fair in Bogotá, Colombia, Nicolas Londoño stood under a white tent and showed a group of young men how to change a baby’s diapers.

As some of the audience members giggled and made jokes, Londoño used a doll to explain how to remove a dirty diaper, use talcum powder and hold a baby properly. 

According to a recent survey, women in Colombia spend three hours more each day on average than men, doing domestic tasks. 

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Manuel Rueda/The World

Londoño works for the Bogotá city government, and he’s part of an educational program called Escuela Hombres al Cuidado or Care School for Men. The program aims to battle centuries of living in a culture that teaches men to focus on being breadwinners and tries to convince men to get more involved at home.

“When we do things like this, we help to ease the burden on women,” said Londoño, who is also a psychologist. “But we also gain a better understanding of what is going on around us and are able to better connect with the people we love.”  

At a job fair in Bogotá, Colombia, Nicolas Londoño showed groups of young men how to change a baby's diapers.  Londoño works for the Care School for Men, an educational program funded by the city government. 

Credit:

Manuel Rueda/The World

According to a recent survey, women in Colombia are spending an average of three hours more than men, daily, doing unpaid domestic tasks. 

That means they have less time for other pursuits, such as furthering their education, applying for jobs or exercising. 

The city government believes that these gender disparities can be reduced if men are more involved in domestic tasks and in the upbringing of their children.  Last year, it launched Care School to teach men how to handle simple domestic tasks, among other things. 

“We can all learn to care,” said Diana Rodriguez, the director of the city Department for Women. 

“Women were not born with a care manual under their arm, knowing how to care. So, the Care School for Men offers the possibility of learning how to cook, how to give a bottle, how to sweep, how to wash floors.”

The program is part of a broader city-led effort to give women more downtime and encourage families to redistribute responsibilities at home. 

In low-income neighborhoods across the city, Rodriguez’s department has also set up community centers known as careblocks that assist women who are staying at home and feel overburdened with domestic work. The buildings are usually two to three stories high and include free laundromats for women who were previously spending several hours each week washing clothes by hand. 

Marlovia Gutierrez takes her laundry every week to a free laundromat at a careblock in the Bogotá, Colombia, suburb of Usme. Previously she was washing by hand. 

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Manuel Rueda/The World

At the careblocks, women with small children can leave their kids in day care centers called “nests,” while they take swimming lessons or learn skills like sewing that can help them get jobs. 

“These places save you time, but they also help you to become a more well-rounded person,” said Marlovia Gutierrez, a 62-year-old homemaker who is raising her grandchildren, and regularly goes to a careblock in the suburb of Usme.

Women learn how to make clothes and use sewing machines at the careblock in the Bogotá, Colombia, suburb of Usme. 

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Manuel Rueda/The World

Gutierrez has her clothes washed every week at the careblock. She’s also learned how to ride a bike there. And on Saturdays, she takes lessons at the careblock to finish up her high school degree. 

“I’m very grateful for this chance to continue to study and become a better person, even though I am an older person,” she said.

While their laundry is being washed and the kids are taken care of women can participate in different activities at Bogotá, Colombia's careblocks, including swimming lessons.

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Manuel Rueda/The World

There are currently 11 careblocks in Bogotá and the city plans to have 45 of these community centers up and running by 2035. 

Rodriguez, from the Department for Women, said that 30% of women in the city still spend 10 hours or more each day doing unpaid domestic work. She’s hoping the careblocks will reduce that and that the school for men can help redistribute labor at home. 

“Because of the sexual division of labor, men have been deprived of the beautiful moments of caring for their children for their grandsons,” she said. 

“So, engaging in care, redistributing care is also something that is wonderful for them.”

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