Mayor Claudia López believes that in order for Bogotá to become a more equitable city, men are going to need care and, above all, councelling. This belief is at the heart of a district initiative to engage the male population “in a real cultural transformation” that begins at home and “assuming the burden of care.” Emphasizing that keeping men’s emotional health and spiritual happiness is not “helpism,” but rather a co-responsibility of every household, on Tuesday, the district Secretariat for Culture, Recreation and Sports, launched the first Men in Care school. “The school will help men recognize their emotions, express them in a balanced, correct, calm and safe way,” remarked López.
The Men in Care program operates from mobile schools in two city localities – Usme and Kennedy – on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Inside these centers, mental health professionals can offer advice, guidance and everyday tools to help those who feel vulnerable or weighed-down by machismo culture. As the service is free, men are encouraged to attend 24 sessions based on four care modules, and that include workshops and creative interaction sessions with wives or partners.
One of the main objectives of the school is to encourage men to become “agents of change” in a domestic setting. According to statistics released by the district only six out of every 10 men participate in domestic work, compared to nine out of every 10 women. While women dedicate 5 hours and 30 minutes each day taking care of home-related activities, men spend 2 hours and 19 minutes. “Caring is not a favor, caring is a duty, and in Bogotá you learn caring,” highlighted the Mayor. For men – and couples – who want to attend Men in Care, the district has facilitated a website www.sistemadecuída.gov.co
The gender disparity when it comes to running a household is an “imbalance that affects the quality of life of thousands of women in Bogotá,” believes Claudia López, and while many men may feel hesitant to express what they feel to strangers, Men in Care aims to create a more just city, starting with recognizing labor inequality. “We have to balance the scales, to relieve women from the task as main care givers, highlighted Nicolás Montero, Secretariat of Culture, Recreation and Sports. “We need men to help build better societies, families, and friendships,” he added.