Intricacies between women and water are central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender equality and women empowerment is a key driver in ending hunger and poverty as well as improve water security the study sought to identify and provide pathways through which female-headed households were water insecure in South Africa. Secondary data collected during the 2016 General Household Survey (GHS) was utilised, with a sample of 5928 female-headed households. Principal Component Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling were used to analyse the data. The results show dynamic relationships between water characteristics and water treatment. There were also associations between water access and wealth status of the female-headed households. Association was also found between water access and water treatment as well as between wealth status and water treatment. The study concludes that there are dynamic relationships in water insecurity (exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) for female-headed households in South Africa. The study recommends that a multi-prong approach is required in tackling exposures, sensitivities and adaptive capacities to water insecurity. This should include capacity–building and empowering women for wealth generation, improve access to water treatment equipment as well as prioritising improvement of infrastructure that brings piped and safe water to female-headed households.
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