The heterogeneity in female-headed households (FHHs) and the differences in household size and composition make the comparison of poverty across male- and FHHs’ complex. The differences in ethno-religion and patriarchal social norms embedded in the various cultures to which these female heads belong also create extra challenges when analysing female headship and poverty. This study, which investigates the poverty and expenditure inequality by gender of the head of the household in Sri Lanka, has a special focus on Sinhala and Tamil ethnic groups. This article makes a significant contribution to the literature on horizontal inequalities in FHHs across communities. Our results indicate that, while FHHs show a higher prevalence of poverty than their male counterparts in both Sinhala and Tamil households, the Tamil FHHs are more vulnerable to poverty.