In general, indigenous livelihoods are often adversely incorporated within development processes and policies on account of their multiple disadvantages and discrimination. The paper argues that the ability to build on or manage livelihoods is largely gendered, often exacerbated through the nuanced working of socio-economic forces as women's experiences of poverty should be located and deconstructed within the configuration of local, political, social and economic forces. Despite notable state led development initiatives in Kerala, the multidimensionality of deprivation among different groups of poor and women within these communities is yet to be seriously considered. Only then, responsive measures can be developed, that will bear any significant difference and meaning to a historically neglected social group. Their social, economic and political participation is important to develop responsive and specific policies and institutions in lieu of those that are designed on the basis of preconceived notions of 'modernisation' and 'homogeneity' of indigenous livelihoods.