Are Australian women really undervalued?

THE women’s liberation movement has been portrayed as being run by a bunch of man-hating feminists with nothing better to do with their time than cry foul about their lot.

Still,  Australian women can thank those bra-burning sisters of yesteryear for the ability to vote, access contraception, run for prime minister or have a cheeky drink at the pub, among other things.

We have come a long way in terms of basic rights but the evidence suggests we are still not giving women a fair go.

In this week’s Beaudesert Times we have a story about the Country to Canberra ladies coming to Beaudesert with Project Empower.

As the name suggests, the project is designed to empower female high school students to value themselves and exercise their right to an even playing field in their lives and careers.

It might be a bit worrying that young women need to learn empowerment but it might also be that our daughters need to learn a few hard facts about their true worth.

One of the most popular television shows right now is The Handmaid’s Tale, which depicts a future where women are valued largely by their ability to have children and where men call all the shots for the preservation of humanity.

The most prominent villains in the story are women who have accepted their sub-par status or actively support the status quo.

Although it is a work of pure fiction penned by Canadian feminist Margaret Atwood, could it be that women see something realistically familiar in the themes described in this show?

A girl graduating from school or university and starting full time work in Australia can expect to earn about $251 a week less than her male classmates and when she reaches retirement her superannuation balance is likely to be just over half what any man in her life could expect.

In 2006 Australia ranked 15th on a global index measuring gender equality and by 2017 we ranked 35th  with Latvia, Slovenia and Mozambique doing a better job at closing the gap, suggesting that either those countries have upped their game or that we are actually going backwards.

During that time frame we also slipped from 32nd to 48th in terms of female political empowerment.

We have to ask ourselves if the facts bear out the suggestion that women really are woefully undervalued in our country.