The NEED for equality is not a western import ,but it is fundamental concept of the greatness of Ancient Indian Civilization...
This post shows the high status of women in Vedic Period(Rig Veda Timeline)
The following are the verses..which prove the above mentioned facts..
All the info has been taken from this blog
"A girl also should be brought up and educated with great effort and care" (Mahanirvana Tantra).
The girls were entitled to Upanayana (to receive sacred thread) and to the privilege of studying Vedas; just as the boys. Women performed religious rites after completing their education under a Guru. They were entitled to offer sacrifices to gods. The son was not absolutely necessary for this purpose.
According to Shrauta and Grihya Sutras, women chanted mantras along with their husbands while performing rituals
Rig Veda talks of the seven steps and vows based on mutual respect, taken during marriage
A friend thou shall be, having paced these seven steps with me. Nay, having paced the seven steps, we have become friends. May I retain thy friendship, and never part from thy friendship. Let us unite together: let us propose together. Loving each other and ever radiant in each other’s company, meaning well towards each other, sharing together all enjoyments and pleasures, let us join our thoughts.
(Source: Taittiriya Ekagnikanda, I iii, 14. ; Sastri, 1918.)
The idea of equality is expressed in the Rig Veda:
"The home has, verily, its foundation in the wife”,” The wife and husband, being the equal halves of one substance, are equal in every respect; therefore both should join and take equal parts in all work, religious and secular." (Rig Veda 5, 61. 8)
Rig veda has no mention of child marriage and Sati(WIDOW burning)
Rik (x.18.8) blesses a woman at her second marriage, with progeny and prosperity in this life time::Go up, O woman, to the world of living; you stand by this one who is deceased; come! to him who grasps your hand, your second spouse (didhisu) ,you have now entered into the relation of wife to husband.
In Rig VEDA (X.18.9) the new husband while taking the widow as his wife says to her: let us launch a new life of valor and strength begetting male children overcoming all enemies who may assail us.
ATHARA VEDA(XVIII.3.4) blesses the widow to have a happy life with present husband ::O ye inviolable one ! (the widow) tread the path of wise in front of thee and choose this man (another suitor) as thy husband. Joyfully receive him and may the two of you mount the world of happiness
To name a few of those significant women rishis/SCHOLARS/AUTHORS OF RIG VEDA who figure in the Rig Veda Samhitā: Goshā Kakshivati, Lopamudra, Romasha,Sarama Devasuni , Yami Vaivasvathi , Rathir Bharadwaja , Apala, Paulomi and others. Needlessto say they were held in high esteem for their work to be included in the important religious text of the era.
According to the author all the defilements in the Indian culture after the glorious vedic period was as a response to invasions from various other countries like Greece..(Alexander),Persia..Our civilization went into dark ages and so our society slowly degraded and we can see the effects even now..