Summaries Poverty reduction lies at the heart of development discourses and practice. Yet it is a notion which is rooted in Enlightenment thought, and increasingly questioned by the intellectual currents which deny universalist ideas of progress and well?being. Similarly, much western feminism also invokes the promise of modernity, and faces postist challenges. This article looks at postmodernist arguements which critique the universalising character of current poverty reduction approaches – Sen’s capabilities framework in particular – for what they signify for GAD’s own emerging agenda on poverty: gender relationships. It attempts to indicate a way through what can be experienced as a disempowering critique. It does this by bringing together ‘materialist’ and ‘culturalist’ perspectives on poverty in the idea of the embodied subjectivity of women which transcends physical/mental dualism. The article draws on the work of Nancy Fraser and Seyla Benhabib towards a more discursively oriented way of thinking about gendered poverty and development. It also argues for the validity of universalist concepts of gender justice, and envisages a role for development intervention.