Women as theological figures
Women as theological figures have played a significant role in the development of various religions and religious hierarchies. The study of women and religion typically examines the role of women within particular religious faiths, and religious doctrines relating to gender, gender roles, and particular women in religious history. It is worth noting from a gender scientific approach, women occupy the second room in all of the following religions in the examples below, with the exception of Nakayama Miki, the founder of Tenrikyo.
George H. Gallup Jr. wrote in an analysis for the Gallup Organization in 2002 that, a mountain of evidence shows that women have more religiosity than men. Gallup goes on to say that women hold on to their faith more heartily, work harder for the church, and in general practice with more consistency than men.
Three women figure prominently in the history of the Bahá'í Faith: Táhirih, a disciple of the Báb; Ásíyih Khánum, the wife of Bahá'u'lláh; and Bahíyyih Khánum the daughter of Bahá'u'lláh. Táhirih and Bahíyyih, in particular, held strong leadership positions and are seen vital to the development of the religion.
Several women played leading roles in the early days of the Bahá'í Faith in America. Among them are: May Maxwell, Corinne True, and Martha Root. Rúhíyyih Khanum and a mix of male and female Hands of the Cause formed an interim leadership of the religion for six years prior to the formation of the Universal House of Justice. Later prominent women include Patricia Locke, Jaqueline Left Hand Bull Delahunt, Layli Miller-Muro, and Dr. Susan Maneck, who herself wrote books documenting the role of women in the Bahá'í Faith.
- Khema and Uppalavanna, the two chief female disciples of the Buddha
- Kisa Gotami
- Machig Labdrön, founder of the Tibetan practice of Chöd
- Maha Pajapati Gotami
- Pema Chodron, fully ordained Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Shambhala lineage.
- Ani Tenzin Palmo, nun in the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and founder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India
- Yeshe Tsogyal, Tibetan consort and disciple of the Padmasambhava
- Chandra Khonnokyoong, a Thai mae chi (nun) and meditation teacher
Women prominent in the New TestamentEdit
- Mary, mother of Jesus
- Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' closest followers
- Lydia and Phoebe
- Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and disciple of Jesus (sometimes misidentified with Mary Magdalene)
- Priscilla, teacher with her husband Aquila, partner with Apostle Paul
- Junia, female apostle of New Testament
Women prominent in the Early Christian ChurchEdit
- Saints Perpetua and Felicity, important martyrs
- Saint Monica of Hippo
- Hilda of Whitby, royal abbess in the 7th century
- Kassia, 9th-century Eastern Orthodox nun, poet and hymnographer; sometimes referred to as St. Kassiani
Women prominent in the Medieval churchEdit
- Antoinette Bourignon, a mystic
- St. Bridget of Sweden (1302–1373)
- Heloise (student of Abelard)
- Hildegard of Bingen, theologian, mystic, wrote much music, some which has survived
- Pope Joan, although existence has been questioned
- St. Margery Kempe (c.1373–1438)
- Saint Macrina the Younger, sister and influence upon Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory of Nyssa
- St. Clare of Assisi, founded the Poor Clares
- St. Julian of Norwich (1342–c.1416), a mystic
- St. Scholastica, twin sister of Benedict of Nursia
Women prominent in the Catholic Church (Post-Reformation)Edit
- Mme Guyon, influential in Quietism
- Mother Cabrini, missionary to New York and first canonized US citizen
- Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity in India
- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founded the Sisters of Charity
- St. Faustina Kowalska, promoted devotion to Divine Mercy
- St. Katharine Drexel, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which performed charitable works for Native Americans and African Americans
- St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, co-founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart
- St. Teresa of Avila, a mystic
In 1970 three women were declared Doctor of the Church
Women prominent in Protestant ChurchesEdit
- Inger Ottesdotter Rømer (c. 1475–1555), wealthiest landowner in Norway, promoted the Reformation extensively
- Argula von Grumbach (1492-1554), writer who defended Martin Luther
- Christina Gyllenstierna (1494-1559), commanded the city of Stockholm, unsuccessful in preventing the execution of over 100 people for heresy (Stockholm Bloodbath)
- Katharina Zell (1497 or 1498-1562), proponent of clerical marriage
- Katharina von Bora, (1499–1552) Roman Catholic nun who became Lutheran, proponent of clerical marriage
- Ursula of Munsterberg in 1528 published 69 articles about why she and other nuns were going to leave their convent.
- Anne Boleyn, influenced religious development in England indirectly by leading Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon and break from the Catholic Church
- Elisabeth of Hesse (1502–1557), exposed secret bigamy of her brother Philip
- Elisabeth of Brandenburg (1510-1558), secretly took communion in both kinds against the wishes of her Catholic father.
- Amalia of Cleves (1517-1586), authored a songbook, rejected as possible wife by Henry VIII
- Anne Askew (1521–1546), tortured in the Tower of London and martyred in Smithfield for Protestantism
- Joan Bocher (?–1550), English Anabaptist martyr in Smithfield
- Elizabeth Pepper (?–1556), martyred while pregnant for Protestantism, together with Agnes George
- Guernsey Martyrs, three women martyred for Protestantism in 1556, one woman was pregnant and gave birth while being burned, the child was rescued but then ordered to be burned too
- Anne Locke (1530 – ?), Calvinist poet
- Anna Leuhusen (died c. 1554), abbess who along with her nuns, became nurses
- Joan Waste (1534–1556), blind woman martyred for Protestantism
- Alice Benden (?–1557), martyred for Protestantism
- Alice Driver (?–1558), testified for and martyred for Protestantism
- Anna Maria of the Palatinate (1561 – 1589), a Lutheran who was concerned about the spread of Calvinism and described by Charles IX of Sweden as "more educated in religion than anyone to be found."
- Magdalena Heymair, in 1569 became the first woman to have her writings listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum
- Elizabeth Melville (c.1578–c.1640), Scottish Calvinist poet, first known woman to print a book in Scotland.
- Augusta of Denmark (1580 – 1639), walked to Lutheran church and refused to attend Calvinist services. Later fired a Calvinist minister and restored the previous Lutheran minister to his position.
- Anna Maria von Eggenberg (1609-1680), moved court to a city in Hungary where she would be able sponsor Protestant church services.
- Catherine Vasa of Sweden (1539-1610) actively supported Lutheranism above Calvinism, visited Wittenberg to study theology, wrote interpretations of the bible
- Johanna Eleonora Petersen (1644-1724), Pietist writer, wikilink in German
- Anne Hutchinson, charismatic and outspoken Puritan in early colonial New England whose unorthodox religious views helped spark the Antinomian Controversy from 1636 to 1638
- Johanna Sibylla Küsel (1650 – 1717), Lutheran printmaker who illustrated religious and scientific books.
- Mary Dyer, avid follower of the Quaker religion who became a martyr when she was hanged in Boston in 1660 for her religious activism
- Katharina Elizabeth – in 1698, Catholic village leaders of Radibor attempted to have her disciplined for attempted Lutheranization of the population.
- Marie Durand (1711–1776), imprisoned 38 years in the Tower of Constance for Protestantism with 24 other women
- Ellen G. White (1827-1915), co-founder and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a large protestant movement present in over 200 countries and territories.
- Lottie Moon (1840–1912), Baptist missionary to China
- Mary Hannah Fulton (1854–1927), Presbyterian missionary to China
- Elisabeth Schmitz (1893-1977), unsuccessfully attempted to prod the Confessing Church to take a stance in favor of Jews during the Nazi era. Wikilink in German.
- Gertrud Staewen (1894-1987), supported the cause of Jews in the Confessing Church during the Nazi era. Wikilink in German.
- Betty Stam (1906–1934), missionary to China, martyr
- Rachel Saint (1914–1994), missionary to the Huaorani in Operation Auca after the martyrdom of her brother
Women prominent in Eastern OrthodoxyEdit
- Catherine the Great, Russian Orthodox from 1744–1796, had been Lutheran from 1729–1744, nationalised all church lands, issued 1773 "Toleration of All Faiths" edict
- Elisabeth Cruciger (1500-1535), the first female Protestant hymn writer
- Aimee Semple McPherson ("Sister Aimee"), early 20th-century evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Church
- Jane Wardley, contributed to the development of the Shakers
- Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army
- Elizabeth Fry, Quaker and prison reformer
- Ellen G. White, co-founder and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Evangeline Booth, fourth General of the Salvation Army
- Hannah Whitall Smith, prominent leader in the Holiness movement
- Joanna Southcott, 18th-century self-described religious prophetess and founder of Southcottians
- Li Tim-Oi, first female priest to be ordained in the Anglican Communion
- Louisa Maria Hubbard (1836–1906), involved in the deaconess movement; published in 1871 the pamphlet "Anglican Deaconesses: is there No Place for Women in the System?"
- Mother Ann Lee, leader of the Shakers in America
- Phoebe Palmer, prominent leader in the Holiness movement
- Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, involved with Methodism; there was a group called the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection
- Mary Baker Eddy, founded Christian Science
- Jackie Pullinger MBE, contemporary missionary working with inner city gangs, and founder of St Stephen's Society in Hong Kong
- Florence Crawford ("Mother Crawford"), founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission of Portland, Oregon
- Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878) Translator of German chorales
Recognition of the feminine aspect of God during the last century by Tantric and Shakti religious leaders, has led to the legitimization of the female teachers and female gurus in Hinduism. A notable example was Ramakrishna, who worshiped his wife as the embodiment of the divine feminine. 
- Aisha bint Talha, scholar
- A'isha, wife of Muhammad and the narrator of the largest number of hadith
- Maryam, mother of Isa (Jesus)
- Amara bin Al-Rahman, exemplary woman juris
- Amina bint Wahb, mother of Muhammad
- Asma bint Abu Bakr, narrator of Hadith
- Asiya, wife of the Pharaoh, Foster mother of Mosa (Moses)
- Sara, wife of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)
- Bilqis, Queen of Sheba
- Fatima Zahra, youngest daughter of Muhammad and Khadijah
- Fatimah bint Qays, scholar
- Khadijah, first convert to Islam, first wife of Muhammad
- Nusaibah bint Ka'b al-Ansariyah, warrior
- Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, important figure in the development of Sufism
- Sayyida Nafisa, scholar
- Sumayyah bint Khabbab, first martyr of Islam, seventh convert to it
- Ukhtul Mazni, highly placed scholar of Islamic jurisprudence
- Umm Ad Darda, theologian
- Umm 'Atiyyah, scholar of Islamic jurisprudence
- Umm Salamah, narrator of Hadith
- Umm Salim, scholar
- Umrah Bint Abdu Rahman, theologian and scholar
- Yochebed, mother of Musa (Moses)
- Tynnetta Muhammad, theologian of the Nation of Islam
The status of women in Jainism differs between the two main sects, Digambara and Svetambara. Jainism prohibits women from appearing naked; because of this, Digambaras, who consider renunciation of clothes essential to moksha, say that they cannot attain enlightenment in the same life. Svetambaras, who allow sadhus to wear clothes, believe that women can attain moksha. There are more Svetambara sadhvis than sadhus and women have always been influential in the Jain religion.
There are several prominent women in the Tanakh.
- Deborah, Hebrew prophetess, fourth judge
- Esther, Jewish heroine associated with the feast of Purim
- Huldah, the prophetess who validated the scroll found in the Temple (thought by many to be the book of Deuteronomy)
- Miriam, Prophetess
- Ruth, proselyte par excellence; better than seven sons
- Leah, beloved of God, matriarch of some of the twelve tribes
- Rachel, matriarch of some of the twelve tribes
One of the Daoist Eight Immortals, Immortal Woman He, is a woman. Additionally, Sun Bu'er was a famous female Taoist master in the 12th century. Her work "Secret Book on the Inner Elixir (as Transmitted by the Immortal Sun Bu'er)" discussed some of the particularities of female "Inner Elixir" (Neidan) cultivation. Daoist nuns usually have equal status with monks.
- Ann Lee, Shaker, founder of Shaker movement in America
- Annie Besant, Theosophist influential in the Indian Independence Movement
- Madame Blavatsky, contributed to the development and promotion of theosophy
- Nakayama Miki, founder of Tenrikyo
- Nirmala Srivastava, founder and self-proclaimed goddess of Sahaja Yoga
- Robert Roy Britt, Women More Religious Than Men, http://www.livescience.com/7689-women-religious-men.html, February 28, 2009 October 27, 2014 (2014)
- "Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá'í and Christian writings and their implications for gender roles". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Women in the Baha'i Faith". Planetbahai.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Selected Topics of Comparison in Christianity and the Baha'i Faith". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Unclipping the Wings". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- Scott, Rachelle M. (2016). "Contemporary Thai Buddhism". In Jerryson, Michael (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. Oxford University Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-19-936238-7.
- A Magnificent Faith: Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany by Bridget Heal
- Huguenot Women of the Tower of Constance
- "Quick Statistics on the Seventh-day Adventist Church". www.adventistarchives.org. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
- "Religion & Ethics - Women in Jainism". BBC. 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "The Role of Women - Victoria and Albert Museum". Vam.ac.uk. 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- Joan Breton Connelly Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece Princeton University Press March 2007
- ^ Silvia Evangelisti Nuns: A History of Convent Life, OUP 2007
- ^ Pechilis, Karen. The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States ISBN 0-19-514538-0
- ^ Shattuck, Cybelle and Lewis, Nancy D. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Hinduism (2002). ISBN 0-02-864482-4
- http://www.rhul.ac.uk/bedford-centre/history-women-religious/ being the webpage of the History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland, which has a number of entries on the links page.[dead link]
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