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The Shakers were more than a radical religious sect on the fringes of American society; they put equality of the sexes into practice.
They demonstrated that equality was achievable and how to achieve it.
UNFPA stated that, "despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate.
Gender equality, also known as sexual equality, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.
Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices.
They also promoted equality by working together with other women's rights advocates.
In 1859, Shaker Elder Frederick Evans stated their beliefs forcefully, writing that Shakers were "the first to disenthrall woman from the condition of vassalage to which all other religious systems (more or less) consign her, and to secure to her those just and equal rights with man that, by her similarity to him in organization and faculties, both God and nature would seem to demand".
He then brought Lucy Wright into the ministry as his female counterpart, and together they restructured the society to balance the rights of the sexes.
Meacham and Wright established leadership teams where each elder, who dealt with the men's spiritual welfare, was partnered with an eldress, who did the same for women. Men had oversight of men; women had oversight of women. In Shaker society, a woman did not have to be controlled or owned by any man.
Gender equality is more than equal representation, it is strongly tied to women's rights, and often requires policy changes.
As of 2017, the global movement for gender equality has not incorporated the proposition of genders besides women and men, or gender identities outside of the gender binary.
Some Christians or Muslims believe in Complementarianism, a view that holds that men and women have different but complementing roles.