Informed by the notion that women are disproportionately affected by poverty, this edition covers a suite of issues pertinent to policy and practice, new knowledge and evidence that requires attention by decision-makers. Rather than positioning poverty as the only backdrop, the pieces in this issue explore the relationships and processes connecting poverty to its gendered meanings. In so doing, this issue illuminates how a variety of factors (notably conceptual understandings, policy, programme, agents) shape current terms of the debate and discussion. From differing vantage points, the authors analyse the gendered dimensions of poverty and reflect on some implications of policy and programme for developing ameliorative interventions. The edition highlights the notion that, in its multidimensionality and complexity, poverty, as we understand it, is connected to resources, production, people, enhanced health care and education, the rights of women, youth and of indigenous people and local communities. All of these, logically, should be supported by democratic decision-making, participation in relation to good governance and effective service delivery. The challenges therefore, for poverty eradication, lie in the promotion of economic growth that is simultaneously sustained by action for strengthening employment and income-generation as well as economic and social rights of women.

While the edition brings useful new evidence and arguments to the fore, the papers also raise a number of concerns and questions that remain to be answered. For example, prospects for strengthening policy in its relation to gender, the balance between demand and supply and the role of the market as a force shaping southern economies, civil society ‘voice’ and participation, and the match between existing policies and the implementation of the policies are some of the issues that still warrant conceptual and empirical investigation. These are likely to be important components of a future research agenda, with much application for advocacy, programming and policy development.

Guest editors – Vasu Reddy and Relebohile Moletsane