Women have always been accorded high respect in the Indian culture. They have been regarded more pious than men. They are often addressed as devi. Girls are named as Shantidevi, Gangadevi, Dayadevi. The word devi is thus often annexed to their names. Girls are adorned not by degrees etc. but by their inherent God-given feminine virtues.
Gods and great personalities are often known through the names of their wives. In various names like Sitaram Radheshyam, Gaurishankar, Lakhyaminarayan, Uma-Mahesh, Maya-Brahma, Savitri- Satyavan; women, have been given precedence over men.
All thoughtful and wise persons have regarded women more prominent in respect of virtues like chastity, loyalty, mercy, compassion, service, sympathy, love, affection, generosity, devotion etc.
Women have, in general been given prominence and respect in all religious and spiritual pursuits. If one goes through the Vedas it will appear that not only rishis but several wives of rishis were also seers to whom Vedic hymns were revealed. How could the great God who is kind-hearted, just and impartial discriminate between man and woman who are his own children?
There is ample evidence which proves that, like males, females used to perform Yagya. They were experts in Yagya technique and religious learning. Several women used to guide their fathers/husbands in this respect. Ida had told Manu that she would do avadhan on fire in such a way that he would get worldly riches, pleasures and respect and attain heaven.
Adi-Shankaracharya had to enter into a spiritual debate with Bharati Devi. Her exposition of the scriptures was so marvellous that even eminent scholars were wonder-struck. Shankaracharya was unable to answer her profound questions and had to seek one month’s time to respond. In Shankar Digvijaya (3/16) it is written that Bharati Devi was well-versed in all the Vedas and other scriptures and branches of Knowledge. None excelled her in knowledge.
How can a ban now be imposed on study of the scriptures by women? If there had been such a restriction in the ancient times, how could there have been women who could have philosophical debates with persons like Yagyavalkya, Shankaracharya etc..?
In fact, in those days all men and women had equal opportunities for studying the Vedas.