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12 countries that feature women on their bank notes


This article first appeared on the World Economic Forum and is written by Ross Chainey.

The US have just announced that they will feature a women on their upcoming redesign of the $10 bill!

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the bill, set to be unveiled in 2020, will honour “a woman who has contributed to and represents the values of American democracy.”

The launch year was chosen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women in the US gaining the right to vote.

While no decision has been made as to who will grace the new ‘greenback’, there are a number of front-runners, including abolitionist Harriett Tubman, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

This will not be the first time the US has used its paper money to recognise the major role women have played in its history. The last was Martha Washington – wife of President George Washington – who appeared on a $1 note from 1891 to 1896.

But America is by no means blazing a trail when it comes to putting women on their currency. Here are 12 more.

1. The United Kingdom

In an attempt to defuse criticism that women were under-represented on the country’s currency (even though Britain’s monarch Queen Elizabeth II appears on the front of every Bank of England note), the UK central bank announced in July 2013 that 19th century novelist Jane Austen – writer of classics such as “Pride and Prejudice”, “Sense and Sensibility” and “Emma” – would become the face of the new £10 note, replacing naturalist Charles Darwin.

2. Syria

Syria’s 500 pound note features the image of Queen Zenobia, a 3rd-Century ruler of the Palmyrene Empire who is most famous for leading a revolt against the mighty Roman Empire.

3. Sweden

The Nordic nations dominate the top of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report rankings, so it’s no surprise to learn that Sweden is streets ahead when it comes to celebrating the achievements of women on their banknotes. Opera singer Jenny Lind currently adorns the 50 krona note, while Selma Lagerlöf – the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature – features on the 20 krona.

Later this year, author Astrid Lindgren, singer Birgit Nilsson and film star Greta Garbo will be added to 20, 500 and 100 krona notes respectively.

4. Argentina

María Eva Duarte de Perón, more commonly known as Eva Perón or simply Evita, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, features on Argentina’s 100 peso note.

5. Australia

Australia’s banknotes are perhaps the most gender equal in the world; they feature a woman on one side of every note currently in circulation. So who is on them? Monarch Queen Elizabeth II, social reformer Dame Mary Gilmore, businesswoman Mary Reibey, social worker and the first female member of an Australian parliament Edith Cowan and soprano Dame Nellie Melba all feature.

6. New Zealand

The Kiwi 10 dollar bill features Kate Sheppard, a major figure in the country’s suffrage movement. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to introduce universal suffrage. Queen Elizabeth II, meanwhile, appears on the 20 dollar note.

7. Turkey

Turkey’s 50 lira bill shows an image of Fatma Aliye Topuz, a novelist, columnist and women’s rights activist, who died in 1936.

8. Israel

Israel has also chosen to honour female writers on its bills, announcing recently that poet Rachel Bluwstein – known as “Rachel the Poetess” – and author, poet and playwright Leah Goldberg will soon be added to its 20 and 100 New Shekel banknotes.

9. Mexico

A self-portrait of artist Frida Kahlo adorns the 500 peso note in Mexico (her husband Diego Rivera is on the other side), while 17th-Century scholar and writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (known as “The Tenth Muse”) appears on the 200 peso note.

10. The Philippines

Corazon Aquino, the first female president of the Philippines, was added to the country’s 500 peso note (alongside her husband, politician Benigno Aquino Jr.) in 2009. Meanwhile, suffragette Josefa Llanes Escoda appears on the 1000 peso note.

11. South Korea

South Korea’s 50,000 won bill, the country’s highest denomination banknote, features the 16th-Century artist, writer, calligraphist and poet Shin Saimdang.

12. Ukraine

In Ukraine, the 200 hryvnia shows the image of Larysa Petrivna Kosach-Kvitka, more commonly known as Lesya Ukrainka. The writer, poet and women’s rights activist died in 1913.

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