In some ancient cultures, women were revered and the Goddess worshipped because of our power. The power of life and death symbolized by giving birth. In India, the yoni, or female genitalia, were worshipped. Some stone entrances to cave temples were carved in a representation of the yoni. Supplicants would dip their fingers into a bowl of reddish powder and rub it on the sacred yoni as a tribute to the bleeding times. There are many sculptures and ancient depictions of the yoni in other lands as well. (try googling "yoni" if you want to see/read some stuff on this)
The younger religions; for example, Christianity and Nation of Islam; recognized the powers of women in the social structure. That is why the rules of these religions are so oppressive of women, in order to discredit our innate strengths.
Let's look at Christianity. Think of the Inquisition. Most of the wise women of the villages in Europe were burned at the stake as witches.
Why? Well, they were the healers, the ones who worked with herbs and medicines. They were considered wise, and held a lot of power in the village. They were midwives who brought people into the world, and also aided women with abortion by use of herbal skills. They advised young people. Who took over these roles after the 'burning times'? Well, the priest, of course. The church gave rules on birth control, and herbal medicines and wise women were considered demonized and practitioners of witchcraft.
Thus changing the social structure to be more controlled by the new religion than its previously community-based power structure.
(an interesting documentary on this is called "The Burning Times", one of a series of three, and should be at your local library or video store)
Just a few thoughts. Good question.