For International Women’s Day 2017 we wanted to highlight some of the great women of history in the best way we know how – through currency! Currency is important not just as a medium of exchange but also because it has significant cultural value. Ancient coins tell us about the politics and culture of lost civilizations, and modern currency is used to express the history and culture of the country it represents.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange, and in 2016 there were certainty some bold changes made to the future Canadian $10 bill and US $20 bill.
Canadian Woman on the $10
Canadians are long accustomed to having a woman on our banknotes. Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait has been on Canadian currency almost as long as she has reigned. While that is no small feet (she has reigned for a record 64 years) many Canadians have pointed out that she is not Canadian, inherited her position, and could soon be replaced by a man! To truly honour Canadian women in history the government realized that we needed a homegrown heroine on our currency – but they left the nominations up to you!
Any woman in Canadian history was eligible to be nominated, the only stipulations were that all nominees must be “Canadian (by birth or naturalization)” and they must have exhibited “outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada.” Of course no fictional women were allowed, and all nominees had to be deceased for at least 25 years.
Hundreds of women were nominated, and any one of them was more than worthy of being honoured on the new $10, but only one could win. In the end it was Viola Desmond who won; a Canadian civil rights icon, entrepreneur, and defender of social justice.
For International Women’s Day 2017 take a few minutes to learn about Viola Desmond, a Canadian woman who changed our country for the better through her strength and determination.
The next series of banknotes will be released in 2018, and while one woman is better than none we have to ask – is one enough?
American Woman on the $20
2016 was definitely a roller coaster year for women in the US. During the hotly contested US election sexism was at the forefront of the debate. Although Hillary Clinton ultimately lost the election she can still proudly claim to be the first woman nominated by a major US political party to run for President.
Another woman made history in 2016, as Harriet Tubman was announced as the new face of the US $20 bill. Featured in movies, TV, and popular culture, the US $20 is one of the most visible and iconic pieces of currency in the world (perhaps along with the US $100). For Harriet Tubman to be profiled front and centre on the $20 puts her not just into every wallet in America, but also at the forefront of American culture.
Tubman is the most iconic leader of the underground railroad, a network of abolitionists, former slaves, and sympathizers who helped slaves escape from the Southern US to the north where slavery was illegal. For many former slaves their journey on the underground railroad didn’t end in the northern states, instead they continued north to Canada.
Unfortunately there is some fear that the decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman could be reversed under the new administration, but as things stand Tubman will be on the new $20 when it is finally released.
If you are eager to get your hands on the Tubman twenty you have a long wait ahead of you. The US Treasury says that bill wont be released until the late 2020’s – a touch too late for International Women’s Day 2017.
International Women’s Day 2017
For International Women’s Day 2017 remember to #BeBoldForChange – however you choose to express that sentiment is up to you, nothing is too big or too small. Here at theCurrent we’d like to propose our own interpretation of #BeBoldForChange: instead of settling for just one woman on the CA$10 and the US$20 push for more women on banknotes, but don’t stop there, how about some women on our change as well!
Stay informed. Stay Current.