Women have gotten the shaft in religion for a long time. It's not just a Western thing, certainly. I wrote my master's thesis about women in Buddhism, and one of the best things that happened to Buddhism with regard to women is the surge of popularity in the West. Feminism* took hold in the West before the East, and Western women refused to bow to the monks just because they were men.
If you read the gospel accounts of the execution and resurrection, you'll see that women played an important role. Peter repeatedly denied he'd ever met Jesus; women were there at the base of the cross as Jesus died. While the disciples were locked in a room trying to figure out what to do next, women were headed to the tomb to prepare Jesus's body for a proper burial. The story of Jesus's appearance after his resurrection has Jesus appearing to a woman.
Women played a huge role in the early church, providing funding for the fledgling religion along with teaching and outreach. There's some strong evidence that women were highly involved in the early church, and this involvement has been written out by later (male) authors of biblical texts.
I'm proud of the women who followed Jesus. They were the ones who saw it through to the end. I want to be like them--doing the nitty-gritty work instead of locking myself away in fear.
May we all have such bravery.
*When people ask me if I'm a feminist, I always want to know what they mean. Do they mean that I believe women should be valued more highly than men? No. Do they mean that I believe women and men should be valued equally? Yes. Mostly, they mean the latter, and I don't understand why that's labeled feminism.