WOMEN IN ISLAM
In Islam a woman is a completely independent personality. She can make any contract or bequest in her own name. She is entitled to inherit in her position as mother, as wife, as sister and as daughter. She has perfect liberty to choose her husband. The pagan society of pre-Islamic Arabia had an irrational prejudice against their female children whom they used to bury alive. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was totally opposed to this practice. He showed them that supporting their female children would act as a screen for them against the fire of Hell: It is narrated by the Prophet's wife, 'A'isha (R), that a woman entered her house with two of her daughters. She asked for charity but 'A'isha (R) could not find anything except a date, which was given to her. The woman divided it between her two daughters and did not eat any herself. Then she got up and left. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to the house, 'A'isha (R) told him about what had happened and he declared that when the woman was brought to account (on the Day of Judgment) about her two daughters they would act as a screen for her from the fires of Hell. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 132 
The status of the Muslim woman in Islam is very noble and lofty one, and her effect is very great in the life of every Muslim. Indeed, the Muslim woman is the initial teacher in the building of a righteous society, provided she follows the guidance from the Book of Allah (Glory be to Him) and the Sunnah of His Prophet (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace).
Since adherence to the Quran and the Sunnah distances every Muslim - male or female - from being misguided in any matter. The misguidance that the various nations suffer from, and their being deviant, does not come about except by being far away from the path of Allah (Glory be to Him) - the Most High, the Most Perfect - and from what His Prophets and Messengers came with. The Prophet (May Allah honour Him and Grant Him peace) said: "I am leaving behind me two matters, you will not go astray as long as you cling to them both, the Book of Allah and my Sunnah." Maalik in al-Muwattaa Vol 2: 899 and al-Haakim Vol 1: 93, It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah no.1871
The great importance of Muslim woman's role - whether as wife, sister or daughter, and the rights that are due to her and the obligations due from her - have been explained in the purified Sunnah.
The secret of her importance lies in the tremendous burden and responsibility that is placed on her, and the difficulties that she has to shoulder - responsibilities and difficulties some, which not even a man bears. This is why from the most important obligation upon a person is to show gratitude to the mother, and kindness and good companionship with her. And in this matter, she is to be given precedence over and above the father. Allah (Glory be to Him) - the most High - says:
"And We have enjoined upon man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness and hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Show gratitude and thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination." Qur’an.Surah Luqmaan 31:14.
Allah - the Most High - said: "And We have enjoined upon man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship, and she brings him forth with hardship. And the bearing and the weaning of him is thirty months." Qur’an.Surah al-Ahqaaf 46:15. 
The Muslim Woman: Her Status in the Ummah By Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, Majmoo' Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi'ah (3/348-350)
Once a person asked the prophet who deserves the best care from me? The prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and Grant Him peace) said your mother (3 times), then your father and then your closest relatives. Sahih Al Bukhari Vol 8:2, Sahih Al Muslim 6181
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه : He (Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace)) also said "Fear Allah (Glory be to Him) in respect of women; and, the best of you are they who behave best to their wives; and, a Muslim must not hate his wife, and if he is displeased with one bad quality in her, let him be pleased with one that is good; the more civil and kind a Muslim is to his wife, the more perfect in faith he is." Sahih Al Muslim 3469 and Tirmidhi 278. 
Abu Hurayra(R) reported: A man came to Allaah's Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: O Messenger of Allaah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me. He replied: "Your mother." The man asked: Then who? So he replied: "Your mother." The man asked: Then who? So the Prophet replied again: "Your mother." The man then asked: Then who? So he replied: "Then your father." So this necessitates that the mother is given three times the likes of kindness and good treatment than the father. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 6 
As regards the wife, then her effect in making the soul tranquil and serene, has been clearly shown in the noble aayah (verse), in His - the Most High's - saying: "And from amongst His Signs is this: That He created for you wives from amongst yourselves, so that you may find serenity and tranquility in them, And He has put between you love and compassion. Indeed, in this are signs for those who reflect." Al-Qur'aan 30:21
Al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer (d.774H) - rahimahullaah - said, whilst explaining the terms mawaddah and rahmahwhich occur in the above verse. "Al-mawaddah means love and affection, and ar-rahmah means compassion and pity, since a man takes the hand of a woman either due to his love for her, or because of compassion and pity for her; by giving to her a child from himself..."
And the unique stance that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam's wife Khadeejah - radiallaahu 'anhaa - took, had a huge effect in calming and reassuring Allaah's Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, when the angel Jibreel - 'alayhis-salaam - first came to him in the cave of Hiraa. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayi wa sallamreturned to Khadeejah with the first Revelation and with his heart trembling and beating severely, saying to her,"Cover me! Cover me!" So she covered him until his fear was over, after which he told Khadeejah - radiallaahu 'anhaa - everything that had happened, and said: "I fear that something may happen to me." She said to him: "Never! By Allaah! Allaah will never disgrace you. You keep good ties with relations, you help the poor and the destitute, you serve your guests generouly and assist those who have been affected with calamities."
And do not forget about 'Aaishah - radiallaahu 'anhaa - and her immense contribution. Even the eminent Sahaabah (Companions) used to take knowledge of Hadeeth from her, and many of the Sahaabiyaat (female Companions) learnt the various rulings pertaining to women's issues from her.
First of all, women are portrayed positively in the Qur'an and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). The Qur'an is the only book of world Scripture in which women are frequently referred to alongside men, and both are described as being friends and partners in faith. The following verses are just a few notable examples:
The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they promote the right and forbid the wrong, establish prayer, pay the poor-due, and they obey God and His messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them. Surely God is Mighty, Wise. God has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity. Qur'an 9:71-72
Surely for men who surrender to God, and women who surrender
There is no question in Islam of men and women being at odds with one another, engaged in some kind of historical struggle for power. Rather, the roles of both are complementary and essential. The Qur'an states:
O mankind! Be mindful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being, and from it created its mate, and from the two of them has scattered countless men and women (throughout the earth). Fear God, in Whose (Name) you demand your rights of one another, and (be mindful of your duty) towards the wombs that bore you. God is ever Watching over you. Qur'an 4:1
Do not long for the favours by which God has made some of you excel others. Men shall have a share of what they have earned, and women shall have a share of what they have earned. (Do not envy each other) but ask God to give you of His bounty. God has knowledge of all things. Qur'an 4:31-32 
At a time when the rest of the world, from Greece and Rome to India and China, considered women as no better than children or even slaves, with no rights whatsoever, Islam acknowledged women's equality with men in a great many respects. The Qur'an states:
"And among His signs is this: that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest and peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Certainly, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect." Noble Quran 30:21
A Muslim woman also has obligations. All the laws and regulations pertaining to prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, doing good deeds, etc., apply to women, albeit with minor differences having mainly to do with female physiology.
Before marriage, a woman has the right to choose her husband. Islamic law is very strict regarding the necessity of having the woman's consent for marriage. The groom gives a marriage dowry to the bride for her own personal use. She keeps her own family name, rather than taking her husband's. As a wife, a woman has the right to be supported by her husband even if she is already rich. 
Islam is a religion of justice
There are some people who speak of equality instead of justice, and this is a mistake. We should not say equality, because equality implies no differentiation between the two. Because of this unjust call for equality, they ask, “What is the difference between male and female?” So they have made men similar to women. The communists said, “What difference is there between the ruler and the subject? No one has any authority over anyone else.” Not even the father over his son?! So they said the father has no authority over his son and so on.Instead, if we say justice, which means giving each one what he or she is entitled, this misunderstanding no longer applies, and the word used is correct. Allah does not say in the Qur’an that He enjoins equality. He said (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, Allah enjoins Al‘Adl (i.e. justice)”. Qur’an, 16:90
“And that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.”. Qur’an, 4:58
Those who say that Islam is the religion of equality are lying against Islam.Rather Islam is the religion of justice, which means treating equally those who are equal and differentiating between those who are different. No one who knows the religion of Islam would say that it is the religion of equality. Rather what shows you that this principle is false is the fact that most of what is mentioned in the Qur’an denies equality, as in the following aayaath: “Say: Are those who know equal to those who know not?” Qur’an, 39:9
“Say: Is the blind equal to the one who sees? Or darkness equal to light?” Qur’an, 13:16
Everyone knows that it is unacceptable if we say that the male is equal to the female. –Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen, Sharh Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitah, 1/180-181  
Abu Huraira (R) reported Allah's Messenger as saying: Woman is like a rib. When you attempt to straighten it, you would break it. And if you leave her alone you would benefit by her, and crookedness will remain in her. A hadith like this is reported by another chain of narrators. Sahih Muslim, 3466
Abu Huraira (r) reported Allah's Apostle as saying: He who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet. Act kindly towards woman, for woman is created from a rib, and the most crooked part of the rib is its top. If you attempt to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, its crookedness will remain there. So act kindly towards women. Sahih Muslim 3468
Abu Huraira (R) reported Allah's Messenger as saying: A believing man should not hate a believing woman; it he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another. Sahih Muslim 3469 
The Muslim Woman: Her Status in the Ummah By Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, Majmoo' Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi'ah (3/348-350),