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Though much attention has been paid to women's roles in society, men's roles are equally important and are also changing in many parts of the world in the global era. Issues of gender have become increasingly important in understanding how religious traditions have developed and how they function. Although the focus on gender emerged first in Western cultures, where feminist movements of the 20th century called for rethinking traditional gender roles in every aspect of society, today it permeates virtually all cultures and religions. That concern reflects an awareness that many traditions have historically granted men the more powerful roles in overseeing religious life, from serving as religious professionals to presiding at rites, although women were more likely to engage in religious activities, especially those ...

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