We've already noted that the Bible's record regarding women features many gaps. The story of biblical men is much fuller and richer than that of their female counterparts, but women are clearly an integral part of God's plan for humanity. Here are some things we know for sure:
The Bible begins with the idea that both men and women are created in the image of God and that both are responsible for caring for the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27-28 KJV
In God's covenant with Israel, both men and women were held responsible for their actions.
If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
Deuteronomy 17:2-5 KJV
In both Jesus' ministry and in the early church, women played a prominent supporting role.
[Jesus] went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Luke 8:1-3 KJV
Though the biblical laws reflect an era and a culture in which women did not have the same rights women enjoy today, the Bible also confirms that God called women into His service. He expected them to answer His call whatever their situation. Some were wealthy, others poor. Some resided in traditional settings, while others lived outside of the norm. Women of the Bible like Rahab, Sarah, Ruth, and Deborah faced life's circumstances and followed God through those circumstances, sometimes regardless of cultural expectations, just as women do today.
Most lists of women's issues include familiar concerns: familial, career, victimization, contraception, politics, and health. How different are the issues facing women today from those that faced females of the ancient world?
As important as family and children are to most women today, their value was even greater to the women of early civilization. The goal at that time was populating the earth and building one's family. Women were raised with the understanding that bringing children into the family was their primary contribution. Their family defined them.
Just to survive, premodern stay-at-home moms faced a balancing act between growing their own food, making their own clothes, caring for extended family, tending to farm animals, and trading for what they couldn't make themselves.
Children were worked into that mix rather than the other way around. A woman's daily work chores, outside of caring for her children, could take up to ten hours a day with kids in tow the whole time. Some child care could be provided if there was an older woman (too old to do housework) living in the home. Older children could also provide some child care, but by the time sons and daughters were old enough to watch younger siblings, they were old enough either to participate in the chores or to be married and manage households of their own.