Contrary to popular belief, Islam has never been a religion that has ‘suppressed’ women and their rights; research and books prove that when the world was against women’s rights, Islam intervened and helped women in their societal status. When the ancient civilizations saw women as sexual objects (and many still do), the religion of Islam gave opportunities of justice and honour to them.
WOMEN’S PLACE AND STATUS IN THE WORLD BEFORE ISLAM
In the Roman Civilization, women were treated extremely cruel by the then ruling Empire. They had no civil or moral rights; no social status whatsoever.
If a man in the Roman Civilization slayed his wife, there would be no consequences, he would have no punishment. Men could marry as many women as they wanted, as women were sold and bought everywhere.
Roman girls were married off at a very young age, mostly at 12 years old, sometimes even younger. A perfect example of this was a woman named Veturia , who was married at eleven, gave birth to six children, and died at twenty-seven.
In the Athenian Civilization, infanticide was practiced vastly. The infant mortality rate was 25% – people of Athens, much like pagan Arabs, used to kill newborn girls before they even got names.
The primary role for Athenian women in life was to get married and bear the men’s children.
When the women were old enough to give birth (which was at 14 years, per their traditions), they used to be locked indoors, cutting off their freedom of movement.
CUSTOMS THAT RUINED WOMEN’S LIVES
The early Iranian culture showcased and painted a very disturbing picture of women.
Women in Iran were forcefully or persuaded to marry in the immediate family, for example, fathers used to marry their daughters, sisters were married off to their brothers.
Recently, there was talk of fathers marrying their 13-year-old adopted daughters in Iran – raking in incest and pedophilia.
In Egypt, it was a custom of marriage between siblings and father-daughter marriage.
Marriage was the norm for Egyptians, but the princesses could not find a husband of equal rank since marriage to foreign princes was definitely not allowed. Thus, brother-sister and father-daughter marriages provided a solution.
In India, even though staying loyal to wives was a custom, the practice of Satti, offset that minimal normality.
If a woman’s husband died, she was to burn herself alive with the husband’s dead body.
The custom is still practiced in many small areas of India.
MEN HAD STOOPED SO LOW
In the pre-Islamic Arab world, daughters were buried alive or sunk in milk at birth – the harsh practice of female infanticide ever popular. This horrible act happened in many parts including India and China.
Similarly, in the Jewish world women were said to be responsible for the sin of ‘leading Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) astray’ and this sin continued race by race, as women kept being disgraced.
In the Christian world, women have been thought of as sinful characters throughout ages, and they have been persuaded to become nuns in the churches, where priests disgraced them under the disguise of being chaste in the eyes of the public.
It is evident through the aforementioned facts that before Islam, women were thought of as unequal, low-level sexual objects, with no moral or civil rights and even to a certain extent being labelled as humans without souls.
THEN CAME ALONG ISLAM; THE RELIGION THAT SAVED WOMEN
O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you. 
Islam has placed women alongside a strong fort of respect and position. The religion has given women the symbol and status of providing justice and honour with men, along with a number of rights as individuals, not just mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.
Just as a cart cannot be driven without two wheels, similarly, without the conjugation of a man and a woman, society can not exist. This is what Islam taught the world, when there was no concept of equal justice between men and women. Allāh says:
And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. 
And it wasn’t just about giving social rights to women, Islam taught men (and women) how to treat each other from a relationship perspective too. It brought modesty, purity, loyalty and of course morality into the equation. Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him and His Family) said:
DOES ISLAM SUPPRESS WOMEN OR FREE WOMEN FROM SUPPRESSION?
There is a new trend after centuries; women are finally gaining their rights. There was a time when they were subject to cruelty, deprived of their rights and were objects of satisfaction – till Islam came about and no doubt the world owes to it, though they avoid to do so.
Women are stripped half or fully naked in the name of freedom, free culture or liberalism – subject to same cruelty, only with a different label. Today, instead of all this being a cultural vice; it is called modern culture and broad mindedness.
So, if you still think Islam suppresses women, by asking them to cover their heads and wear a Hijab, or not wear revealing clothing – well, the irony then my dear, is definitely unmistakable.
 Qur’ān | 4:1
 Qur’ān | 2:228