It is only in the Pagan polytheistic religions that women have been able to see their true potential. The Wiccans of course, in my opinion, are the foremost leader in equality for women. Equality seems to be a sacred standard in their Covens and I respect them very much for their strong position on this issue. If you want to read about a strong female Wiccan leader look up the late Lady Sintana on the internet ! Her recent passing was very sad for the entire Wiccan community. The Asatru has a good record of admission and equality but I am concerned that in Iceland the first three Allsherjargodi, Chief Godi, have been male. Good men, but men none the less. In our religion there are many good intelligent women, the equal of any man. Diana L. Paxson, Galina Krasskova, Larisa C. Hunter and Michaela Macha come to mind at once, and though I may not agree with all their views I admire and respect their independent views very much. Women of strength and knowledge are more prevalent in all Pagan religions, and women from all religions deserve the exact same unprejudiced chance to excel.
I believe that much of the religious prejudice started with the writing of the religious texts themselves. I mean who wrote the Old and New Testaments, the Koran, Kabbalah,etc... Men ! Even our sacred texts were written by men. I think that they wrote, in some cases, a bias against women into their texts. Whether this was done consciously or sub-consciously only the authors of these books can say. But this, "bias", has served to diminish the role of women in their religions. In Christianity only the Virgin Mary seems to have reached a role of prominence. Eve's role seems to be only to show the weakness of women to temptation, and poor Mary Magdalene is belittled in the Canonized Bible, and only in the Gnostic texts does she seem to receive some elevation of stature.
In the Asatru religion, as Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson himself said, " Thor should get the highest praises, and Freyja is on the same level as Odin." There are also wise female Goddesses such as Frigga, who knows the future but says nothing, and of course the mysterious Gullveig who was burned three times but reborn each time. The even more mysterious Norns weave the future of Gods and men alike. These are strong female images. I love these strong images of the Goddesses such as Skadi, the great skiing archer, and Freyja, in full battle gear, riding over the battlefield with her fierce Valkyries choosing the slain. I believe that having women shown in a positive light in our sacred texts reinforces the correct way to view women in our religion. I know that it shapes the way I see our female members and reinforces my respect and appreciation for them. If I see a woman of beauty I think of Freyja; a mother, Frigga; a compassionate woman, Sigyn, and so on. I would never disrespect any of these Goddesses and therefore could never disrespect their human equivalents. This respect is reinforced by the possibility of retribution by the Goddesses themselves for any acts of disrespect.
Can this cycle of mistreatment and exclusion be rectified in religion ? At this point in time I doubt it very much ! The men who are in power are very reluctant to share what took them centuries of brainwashing to obtain. There are few too many men throughout history who have had the courage to do what is right and not what is popular or established. All I can say to these women is that there will always be a place for you in our Pagan religions. Our Gods and Goddesses judge you on what you do not on what gender you happen to be !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !