Catherine Booth co-founded the Salvation Army with her husband William Booth. The SA was formed on a firm conviction that christians should be doing more than just going to church but should be actively going out of their way to both help the poor and change the way society works (the Booths were abolitionists, supporters of the temperance movment etc). In a time when the church was increasly lead by the rich and extremly self obssesssed (not unlike today!) the Booths and others like them, includiing Wilberforce and the other members of the Clapham Sect were nothing less than revolutionary!
In terms of gender equality, the newly formed salvation army was miles ahead of the rest of the church in its progressiveness, which I think we can probably thank Catherine for, male and female officers in the various branches were commpletely equal and Catherine both lead and spoke publicly in meetings, with a firm conviction that women were just as much able to do this as men. She wrote an amazing treatise for this which can be found here http://www.cresourcei.org/cbooth.html I haven't read it all properly but I intend to, it looks amazing.
A few of the best bits in the reference above include, "Now, if the word of God forbids female ministry, we would ask how it happens that so many of the most devoted handmaidens of the Lord have felt themselves constrained by the Holy Ghost to exercise it? Surely there must be some mistake somewhere, for the word and the Spirit cannot contradict each other. Either the word does not condemn women preaching, or these confessedly holy women have been deceived. Will any one venture to assert that such women as Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, Mrs. Fletcher of Madely, and Mrs. Smith have been deceived with respect to their call to deliver the gospel messages to their fellow-creatures? If not, then God does call and qualify women to preach, and His word, rightly understood, cannot forbid what His Spirit enjoins ... In short, "there is no end to the errors in faith and practice which have resulted from taking isolated passages, wrested from their proper connections, or the light thrown upon them by other Scriptures, and applying them to sustain a favourite theory." Judging from the blessed results which have almost invariably followed the ministrations of women in the cause of Christ, we fear it will be found, in the great day of account, that a mistaken and unjustifiable application of the passage, "Let your women keep silence in the Churches," has resulted in more loss to the Church, evil to the world, and dishonour to God, than any of the errors we have already referred to."
How amazing!!! This women is officially one of my heroes.
Catherine Booth was involved in a huge amount of work, including creating shops for poor people to buy cheap food and campaigning against the use of women's sweatshop labour in match factories, using highly toxic substances, and eventually through the SAs work, these practises changed. (http://www.derbyshireuk.net/booth.html).
I'll try and put some more info about Catherine on here later, but for now I have to go get lunch!