Gender equality is firmly rooted in the teachings of the Aryan Prophet Zarathushtra, as is evident in his poetic gathas and the Avesta. The equal status of both sexes has attributed to the powerful status of women within the Zoroastrian community throughout the ages.
Yasna 27.15 is one of the three most prominent manthras of the poetic gathas. In its 3rd rhymed verse line; prayers are offered to both male and female saints, and the worship of holy/divine females who have ármaiti (“flow of brilliant thoughts, serene meditation”) at their head, is offered to the Auspicious, Bright Immortals.
In Yasna 30.2, 2nd rhymed verse line, heroic males and females are both asked to exercise their will power and choose wisely like a wizard/sage (Avestan vichi, compare with old English wicca.)
The attribute used for heroic men and women in Yasna 30.2, 2nd rhymed verse line is narém-narem. It is an epithet of the gods or god-men in the Rig Veda, and comes from the root nar, Proto-Indo-European root nḗr “powerful, heroic, courageous;” Cognates include Ancient Greek ἀνήρ (anēr) Lithuanian nóras “will power” Old Irish ner, Welsh nêr Latin neriōsus “firm, resolute, powerful.”
The term nar/náir, from the same root is used throughout the poetic gathas to designate courageous heroes of both males and females.
Yasna 35.6 commands study and pursuit of knowledge for worthy men and women alike (ná vá náirí vá). Besides being educated, women (as well as men) are expected to discuss, deliberate and expound the wisdom/knowledge of the divine truth (vaædá haithím.) The term haithím from the root hath, is the same as Sanskrit satyá, Old English soð, Old Saxon soth, “oracle, true vision, divinely inspired wisdom, manthra.”
Elsewhere, in the Avesta in Hērbedestān.5, the topic of who is eligible to receive education for priestly studies is discussed. The text states that either a worthy lady (náiriká-) or the lord/protector of the house (nmánö .paiti-) may go forth for this—the chosen party being the one who has the “highest esteem for virtue, excellence” and is less needed for managing the household.
Nēyrangestān. 22.2 permit “any worthy male or female or young youth who knows the sacred manthras to act as a zaötar-, or invoker priest in the ceremonies. With the emphasis that the qualifying factor is mastery and the knowledge of the inspired poetry and not sex or age.
In Vispered 3.4, the express desire to appoint a “courageous woman” is paralleled in the same verse by the wish to appoint a “courageous man” (nar-) who knows, is wise in the pristine faith, first will/choice, vistö.fraórəiti. -
In Yasna 37.3, 3rd rhymed verse line; the guardian angel/fravashis of both heroic males and females is lauded (tém asháunám fravashísh narám-chá náirinám-chá.)
Also, in Yasna 26.7, the guardian angels or fravashis of scholar priests and their students, male or female is lauded (aæthra-paitinąm aæthrya-nąm narąm náirinąm.)
This verse is echoed in Yasht. 13, verses 139-42, wherein the fravashis of various venerable women, and verses 143-44 wherein the fravashis of virtuous, luminous women and of virtuous, luminous men in the various lands is praised.
In Yasna 39.2, the souls (urunö) of virtuous, worthy men and women, wherever they may have been born is adored (kudö zátanąm chīt̰ narąm-chá náirinąm chá.)
So too in the Avestan fragment FrD.3, both sexes are explicitly cautioned: “He has not won anything who has not won (anything) for his soul. She has not won anything who has not won (anything) for her soul” (nöit̰ cahmi zazva yö nöit̰ urunæ zazva. nöit̰ cahmi zazushi yá nöit̰ urunæ zazushi.)
In Yasna 51.13, 1st rhymed verse line; the malice of both the treacherous men and women in distortion is reckoned.
Yasna 53.6, 1st rhymed verse line is about “the manifest fate/future becoming of courageous men or women verses evil males or females” (ithá í haithyá narö athá jə̄nayö.)
In hymn to the bright star Tištriya (Yasht. 8, 59) both the “evil man” (mairyö) and the “evil woman” (jahika) are banned from partaking of the ceremonials.
In Yasna 41,2, prayer is offered for the reign of a good ruler, heroic male or female (ná vá náirí vá), to reign in both existences” (khshaætá uböyö aŋhvö). Hence, women, as much as men, are considered equally capable of kingship/leadership in both the corporeal and spiritual planes of being.
In Yasna 53.8, 3rd rhymed verse line, the prayer/heartfelt wish is for the good leadership of male or female rulers who will remove bloodshed, and bring peace and happiness to the villages and settlements.
In Yasna 38.3 talk is of the divine females in relation to life giving waters.
In Yasna 38.1, bounty of the land and fruitfulness of women is compared. The word used for woman is gená in the verse. Compare Avestan gená, with Greek gyné, Sanskrit gná “wife of a god, a goddess;” Old Church Slavonic zena, Old Prussian genna, Gothic qino “a woman, wife;” qéns “a queen, Proto Indo European gwen.
Old English cwen “queen, female ruler” comes from the same exact root. The word gená is used again in Yasna 46.10, 1st rhymed verse line; where both strong, noble men and women pass the portal/bridge to other dimensions (chinvatö pərətüm.)
In Yasna 54.1, or the powerful á.airyémá ishyö manthra, in its 2nd rhymed verse line; Airya-man, or the noble fellowship is invoked for the wish fulfillment of the courageous men and women of Zarathushtra” (nərəbyas-chá náiribyas-chá zarathúshtrahæ.)
In conclusion, I shall add that the elaborate purity laws are common to both sexes in Zoroastrianism (e.g., the correct disposal of hair- and nail-clippings, see Vendidad. 17.) Yet women are subject to supplementary purity regulations concerning mainly their procreative functions such as menstruation (Vendidad. 16.4-7) and stillbirth (Vendidad 5.48-56.)
It is worth noting, that men too are bound by gender-specific purity rites, (see Vendidad. 18.46.)
Last but not least, in the Zoroastrian jurisprudence men and women inherit equally and inheritance laws do not favor one party over the other because of their gender.