Women have held roles in religion for as long as it has existed, but they are rarely able to become leaders in their places of worship. With the rise of feminism, women have broken into positions of guidance in spirituality, even if it is a slow process.
Spiritual Women: Female Religious Leadership By Gabriel Dubransky
Since the beginning of religion, women have acted in different ways in religion. In ancient Egyptian religion, a high-ranking priestess would be named God’s Wife of Amun, and she was responsible for transferring the power of pharaohs. From 6 B.C.E. to 10 C.E., Buddhist nuns could be ordained as bhikkhunis and become religious leaders, but when the Theravada branch of Buddhism began to spread, bhikkhuni ordinations ceased. However, in Australia in 2009, the first ordination of Theravada bhikkhunis was enacted. Similarly, in 2007, the first female Roman Catholic priest was officially ordained since the beginning of the Catholic Church, though she and the female bishop ordaining her were subsequently excommunicated--so the struggle goes on. Throughout history, female spiritual leaders have existed, but the changing times have only more recently allowed more religions to put women in places of guidance.
Most branches of the Christian church have only allowed for women in leadership within the past fifty years, with the first positions open being the least influential. According to the Pew Research Center, only 4 of 9 major religious groups have ever had a female leader, and only 2 currently have one. Furthermore, 7 of 18 organizations still don’t allow women to be ordained at all. Though there are and have been many amazing women leading religion, they still occupy only about 13% of pastoral roles, and information about women of other faith is either slim or nonexistent.
The tie between feminism and religion can sometimes be tenuous, but the right to be an innovator of faith should be open to all women.