Intrahousehold Disparities in Women and Men’s Experiences of Water Insecurity and Emotional Distress in Urban Bolivia

Abstract

This study is one of the first to examine the links connecting water insecurity, gender, and emotional distress. The article presents quantitative and qualitative analyses of interview data collected from randomly selected pairs of male and female household heads (n =48) living under the same household-level conditions of water insecurity. The results provide partial confirmation of past findings that women are more likely than men to be burdened with everyday water responsibilities. However, there were no significant differences between men’s and women’s experiences in household water emergencies (i.e., water shortages and last-ditch attempts to buy water) and reports on some measures of emotional distress (i.e., worry, annoyance, and anger with family members). The results suggest that intrahousehold gender disparities may be mitigated in times of severe water scarcity. The discussion raises questions about the comparability of men’s and women’s expressions of emotional distress.