Senator Roy Barreras’ dog recently accompanied his owner to Congress to announce the corporation’s new pet policy. Days later, Congressman Alirio Barrera showed up with his horse passport. According to their statements, the purpose of their symbolic gesture was to make visible the diversity of the country and the central place that this animal has in the lives of Colombian villagers.
The sensation caused by Passport was obvious. Various press releases and trills confirm this.
When we think of pet-friendly policies, we tend to think of dogs, cats, and even canaries. But never larger species, such as horses or cows, much less tarantulas or snakes. Perhaps this same tendency that predisposes us to think that only certain minor species are pets is what first led to Congress becoming an animal-friendly place rather than children and humans to be take care of them.
Senator Angelica Lozano eloquently emphasized this point. His interventions served to make it clear how Congress wanted to be progressive through the wrong measures.
While it is important to promote attitudes that are consistent with new national and international legal developments in animal protection, there are priority areas of intervention where Congress can serve as a catalyst to promote urgent and necessary change through its example. The implementation of schemes that allow for the harmonization of workloads of work and care is one of them.
As Senator Lozano said, Congress does not offer services that allow the people who work in this institution to easily reconcile these two vital aspects of their lives and our lives.
Caring has personal, social and institutional dimensions. It is an emotional, economic and political need. So far, however, the States, the market and most communities have resisted accepting the responsibility that falls to them in this task.
So they have chosen to characterize it as an act of personal love that belongs in the intimate realm of homes. For this reason, care is family-centred, feminized and, when offered for a fee, usually insecure. This conceptualization of caregiving explains why animals are first created for a seat in Congress, rather than girls, boys, and the people responsible for their care.
The pandemic has shown us the bitter face of approaching care from this perspective. During this time, not only did the gender gap with respect to women in the number of hours devoted to care increase, but the relationship between their care responsibilities and their opportunities to take up and stay in care became even more apparent. .
In the case of Colombia, the covid emergency has clearly highlighted the fragmentation and limitation of the few care policies that exist at the national level.
Now that everything is supposedly back to “normal” before the pandemic, we can’t forget what it made visible. I want to believe that the controversy sparked by this image, between the folkloric and the surreal, of a congressman entering Congress on horseback, will contribute to this corporation taking action that allows it to address the challenges women face , who work there to balance their work aspirations and your caring responsibilities.
Moreover, I hope that the media hype will be an incentive for Congress and other public and private institutions to design measures and encourage debates that allow progress in formulating a real system of care.
We are facing a care crisis on a large scale due to the aging of the population, the re-composition of households due to issues such as migration or the separation of couples and changes in attitudes towards the duty of care.
We are at a time when Congress could take the initiative and show how caregiving is a political and legal issue of such importance that it be given a place in its facilities and filled with meaning through symbolic actions and concrete measures.