In Colombia unpaid caregiving falls disproportionately on women. Few choose to dedicate their lives to caring for others and most carers have no training, financial assistance or recognition. In 2010, Colombia introduced a law that requires the contributions of the invisible ‘care economy’ to be documented. In 2018, the city of Bogotá found that among unpaid care workers, one in three women in the city – about 1.5 million people – were laboring with little recognition for their dedication and 90% were living in poverty. In response, the city’s first female Mayor, Claudia López, proposed an innovative program that won $1 million from Bloomberg philanthropies in 2021. The plan involves 23 care blocks strategically dotted around Bogotá’s deprived neighborhoods. Carers can stop by to chat to a therapist, receive legal advice from a lawyer around government support, join workshops or fitness classes, learn computer skills, or drop off dirty washing. And the mayor’s office sends specialists into homes, once a week for 12 weeks, to tailor strategies for carers. The program is having a huge impact on carer morale and skills, and, in some cases, is expanding the capacity of those who are being cared for. “This is the right program, tackling the right set of challenges, at exactly the right time – and that’s why cities everywhere are watching closely,” said James Anderson of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Care blocks may have started in Bogotá but they will inspire and spread far beyond.”

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