The Prophet (peace be upon him), fourteen centuries ago, through Divine Revelation, mentioned that women were equal in their faith and humanity with men.
Allah states in the Qur'an:
"Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward". (33:35)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, "Women are but sisters of men." (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) confronted many cruel and unjust practices against women during his time. Some of the Arabs, considering women inferior, would bury their daughters alive; the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke out against such evil customs.
The Qur'an describes it as follows:
And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide. (16:58-59)
In opposition to the practice of burying daughters alive, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say:
"Whoever has three daughters or three sisters or two daughters or two sisters and lives with them in kindness, fearing Allah in regard to them, will enter Paradise." (At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet's kindness to women was not just limited to daughters and sisters, but also included other women, especially mothers.
Once a man came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asking:
O Messenger of Allah! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your mother." The man said. "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) once again repeated, "Your mother." The man asked for the fourth time, "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your father."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also used to consult women, deal with them gently, support them in all situations and give them their complete rights in a way never dreamt of before.
Likewise, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was concerned with educating women. He even appointed a day for them to assemble and would come to teach them from that which Allah had taught him. (Muslim)
He did not make woman a prisoner within the house, but allowed her to go out to take care of her needs, visit her relatives and visit the sick. He allowed her to buy and sell in the marketplace as long as she adhered to modest conduct and proper dress. He also allowed her to attend the mosque and forbade preventing her, saying, "Do not prevent your women from [coming to] the mosques." (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)
He also prohibited beating women, saying, "Do not strike the female servants of Allah." (Abu Dawud)
And he urged kindness toward her with the words, "Be advised to be good to women." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) This involves good treatment, respect for her rights, concern for her feelings and avoidance of any kind of harm.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his companions, "The best of you is the best of you to your wives." (Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi)