Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the factors that influence the decision of married women (in the age group of 16-60 years) to participate in labor force activities. Design/methodology/approach – This is an empirical study employing the non-linear maximum likelihood probability (probit) function on primary data (3,911 observations). Findings – Besides other variables it has been observed that poverty remains an important determinant of female labor participation. Research limitations/implications – On the basis of this paper, a socio-economic policy can be formulated for a developing country like Pakistan. Practical implications – A development policy (especially considering the gender aspects) can be formulated on the basis of this research for the enhancement of human resource development for a developing and an orthodox economy like Pakistan. Originality/value – This paper is beneficial to researchers, policy makers, and social scientists for the enhancement of the level of social welfare and equity through its findings.