Sociocultural barriers to water security among women in rural Odisha, India Open Access

Patrick, Madeleine (Summer 2018)

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The field of water, sanitation, and hygiene research, has increasingly acknowledged sociocultural barriers as significant contributors to water insecurity among women in developing countries. However, much research on water insecurity has been conducted in settings that experience water scarcity or have low coverage of improved water sources, and therefore focus on the physical or financial barriers to accessing water. Furthermore, few studies have addressed specific water needs of women in varying life stages. The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship between presence of water sources and access to sources, and to identify the sociocultural barriers to water use faced by women at different life stages.  A grounded theory approach was used to analyze data from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with women of four life stages from adolescence to post-menopause in rural Odisha, India. Results showed that behavioral expectations of women, menstruation taboos, and individual threats all resulted in barriers to safe and private access to water sources, leading to experiences of water insecurity even when water sources were available. The identification of these constraints in the context of water availability demonstrates the importance of considering of sociocultural barriers to water when designing interventions in areas with both high and low coverage to improved water sources to ensure access by women of all ages.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. 1

Chapter 2: Literature Review.. 3

Global importance of water. 3

The relationship between gender and water. 5

2.1 Water and women’s physiological health and safety. 7

2.2 Water and women’s empowerment 9

2.3 Water and women’s mental health. 10

Conclusion. 12

Chapter 3: Manuscript. 13

Contribution of the Student:. 13

Abstract. 14

Introduction. 14

Methods. 18

Study Setting. 18

Data Collection. 19

Data Management and Analysis. 22

Ethics. 23

Results. 24

Participant characteristics. 24

Influences on water insecurity. 26

External, unsystematic threats to water access by others. 34

Discussion. 38

Conclusion. 42

Study Strengths and Limitations. 43

Chapter 4: Public Health Implications. 45

References. 52

Appendices. 57

Appendix A: Interview Guide. 57

Appendix B: Focus Group Discussion Guide (Unmarried Women). 64

Appendix C: Focus Group Discussion Guide (Married Women). 69

Appendix D: Demographic Tool 74

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