There is a wealth of scholarly knowledge that aims to disentangle the complex relationship between gender and water. This scholarship coupled with practitioners’ collective experiences and insights have resulted in the emergence of certain narratives that describe how unequal gender relationships to water are manifested and how they can be addressed.

In this paper, the authors critically examine four of these water and gender narratives, myths, or realities:

  • Are women solely responsible for water collection?
  • Are women excluded from the global water workforce?
  • Is technology sufficient enough to solve water-related gender inequalities?
  • Does participation in design and implementation of water services address gender inequalities?

By reviewing existing evidence underlying these water and gender narratives that are prominent in much academic research and international programming, the authors show the nuances of water and gender relationships, and the discrepancies upon which these narratives are grounded. They draw on examples and research largely focusing on the Global South, but highlight a need for similar examination of these narratives in the Global North. Finally, they discuss remaining knowledge gaps and argue that these normative understandings overlook limited and potentially contradicting evidence on the intricacies of the relationship between gender and water.