I ran across an interesting 501c3 nonprofit the other day called Women on 20s, which aims to create a people’s mandate to get a woman on the twenty dollar bill by 2020, which would be the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. The organization is spreading awareness on every major social media platform and is encouraging website visitors to vote on who they would like to see on the twenty dollar bill.
So why the twenty dollar bill? The reason this bill was chosen is interesting. First off, everyone uses twenty dollar bills, which means there will actually be usage of currency that has a woman’s face on it (referring to the Susan B. Anthony dollar and Sacagawea coin of recent years). The second reason is that among any current currency face holder, Andrew Jackson is the most controversial. Jackson has been cited recently as having been a fierce opponent of the central banking system, instead favoring gold and silver coin to paper currency. Also, Jackson was a key player politically in the horrendous Trail of Tears, which resulted in the death of thousands of Native Americans.
With women’s rights continually gaining traction, especially with support of President Obama and his administration, this idea of putting a woman on currency has a real chance of happening. A country’s currency says what we value as a nation, and right now it is saying we value the accomplishments of white men who came before us more than any other class of people.
Currently, a movement just north of us in Canada is trying to do the same thing. In 2011, the Bank of Canada cancelled plans to display images of famous women activists on their $50 bill. Right now, a petition calling for this again has 48,000 signatures on it, including the signature of famous author Margaret Atwood. A website, womenonbanknotes.ca allows you to add images of famous Canadian women to bank notes and post them to social media, thus furthering awareness for the issue.
If we are going to continually saying that women are equal to men in this country, it is time that they are treated as such. Even though we can’t agree to pay women the same as men, or cover birth control on health insurance the same way as Viagra is, we can take this very small step of putting one woman on our paper currency. That is not very much to ask for. To quote famous American feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem, “Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history.”