Here's a comical account of how women gained equality in traditional Hawaiian society. This is Mark Twain's interpretation of it, anyway.
"Old Kamehameha I was dead, and his son, Liholiho, the new King was a free liver, a roystering, dissolute fellow, and hated the restraints of the ancient tabu. His assistant in the Government, Kaahumanu, the Queen dowager, was proud and high-spirited, and hated the tabu because it restricted the priviledges of her sex and degraded all women very nearly to the level of brutes. So the case stood. Liholiho had half a mind to put his foot down, Kaahumanu had a whole mind to badger him into doing it, and whiskey did the rest. It was probably the rest. It was probably the first time whiskey ever prominently figured as an aid to civilization. Liholiho came up to Kailua as drunk as a piper, and attended a great feast; the determined Queen spurred his drunken courage up to a reckless pitch, and then, while all the multitude stared in blank dismay, he moved deliberately forward and sat down with the women! They saw him eat from the same vessel with them, and were appalled! Terrible moments drifted slowly by, and still the King ate, still he lived, still the lightnings of insulted gods were withheld! Then conviction came like a revelation--the superstitions of a hundred generations passed from before the people like a cloud, and a shout went up, "The tabu is broken! The tabu is broken!"
Moral of the story: the ERA could have used a little more whiskey.