San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Expert: Leaving Home Care to Outsiders Causes Problems

WHEN a woman works outside of the home, leaving others in charge of the household, problems arise in childhood and adolescence because the mother can not manage her residence, according to María Eugenia Mondragón, general director of Hogar Empresa.

Mondragón’s organization is here to help, she says.

“We have seen what happens in society when a woman has to work outside of the home and leave her house in the hands of other people,” Mondragón said. “When a woman can not attend to her home, her family is not cared for.”

FOUNDED more than 20 years ago, Hogar Empresa educates women on how to run a household.

The two-year program is made up of trimesters with students taking four classes each session on topics including cooking, cleaning, laundry, menu planning, floral arrangement, home decorating, morality and religion.

Located La Uruca, a district in northern San José, the program meets from 9 a.m. to noon weekly, March through November.

The idea behind the program is for women take back the dignity there is in housework and in being the head of a household, Mondragón said.

IN an effort to prepare women for the future or help them with their current situations, Hogar Empresa hopes to teach women how to organize their lives so that they can better attend to these responsibilities.

In the first trimester, the program helps women achieve an administrative mindset in which they view the home as a business, making an effort to move it forward through organization, family teamwork and style of command. The following trimesters build on these fundamentals.

WANTING women to be able to see “the pride in being able to say ‘I am a housewife’” is one of the goals of the program, Mondragón explained. Women often lose sight of the importance of have a mother in charge of the house, according to Mondragón.

“It should be a requisite before getting married,” said Lilliam Alvarado, a 48-year-old married mother of three. “It’s a complete education that we have received in this program with courses about the home, relationship with our spouse and children and most importantly the spiritual part. It’s helped us enormously to feel happy and proud.”

Mondragón is quick to say that Hogar Empresa is a complementary form of education, not meant to replace attending college or vocational training.

The program is geared toward all women over 18, whether they are solely dedicated to their homes or are working professionals.

The program is not against women working outside of the home as long as they do not neglect their responsibilities in it.

“I am not sa ying that she should not have a professional job outside the house as long as she can balance the two,” Mondragón says of women who choose to work. “What we want at Hogar Empresa is to better help women so that they do not abandon their families for a professional occupation. Her work in the home should be done just as professionally as she does her job outside of it.”

CLASSES regarding human virtues that women can help impart to their children are also a core part of the program.

“We’ve studied family pedagogy,” Mondragón said. “When children are educated on virtues, personal responsibility, respect for all things, generosity, etc. then they will become happy and successful people.”

The response from students is positive. Currently 35 students are enrolled in the program – 17 in their first year, 18 in their second.

On a recent day of classes for the second-year students, a professor stood lecturing in front of the ordinary-looking classroom with women ranging from their early 20s to upward of 60, sitting quietly in the forward facing rows.

AHEAD of the students is a full kitchen with several pots and pans set out on the countertop for today’s baking lesson.

After this, they will attend class on family virtues followed by first aid and then a lesson on home administration.

“The program has helped me prepare for when I have my own home,” said Nydia Avila, 34, who is single and works as a translator. “The cooking has been very important, but more than anything I have benefited from the moral and religious principles.”

Mayela Loaiza, 42, who is married with three daughters, is also happy with the program.

“It’s important because it teaches us a lot things relating to the home and relating to children,” she said.

However, while students heartily endorse the course, there are likely to be detractors who say that it promotes sexist and chauvinistic attitudes.

MONDRAGÓN said there probably are a lot of people who think the program promotes these ideas, but she does not share this point of view.

“It’s true that there is a feminist vision of woman and man being equal,” she said.

“I would say that really it is not only about this happening, but about a woman getting back the dignity that she has as a woman and about taking her role in society and being the head of her family.”

The program does not promote sexism – it helps woman and does not hurt them, said both Avila and Alvarado.

HOWEVER, Loaiza disagreed.

“I have my doubts, because in all honesty, yes, it seems sexist,” she said. “It’s only us women, but the program has helped us very much.”

Loaiza does not view the program as conforming women. Rather, she believes the benefits she received and her positive experience make the classes worthwhile.

For more information on Hogar Empresa, call 231-2359 or 290-7855 or visit


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