Women of note

September 1, 2016

Australia is a world leader when it comes to gender equality on our currency

A next generation Australian five dollar bill was released on 1 September.

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the new fiver will be jammed packed with security features to prevent counterfeiting and a tactile surface to assist the vision impaired.

In short, it comes fully protected and is more than just a riot of colour.

The design, predominately pink with splashes of purple, accompanied by wattle flowers and an image of the colourful Eastern Spinebill, was unveiled in April; to mixed review.

Australia's Notable Women

But there is good reason to be proud of our banknotes.

Australia is a world leader when it comes to gender equality on its currency: we're one of the few countries to have more women than men on our banknotes.

If you exclude Queen Elizabeth, who appears on our $5 note as well as 74 other banknotes in at least 19 countries across the globe, then men and women grace our paper money in equal measure.

The women on our current set of banknotes are Dame Mary Gilmore ($10), Mary Reibey ($20), Edith Cowan ($50) and Dame Nellie Melba ($100). Catherine Helen Spence also appeared on a commemorative Federation $5 note.

Worldwide, women on banknotes are a rarity.

An analysis by Vox Media found women feature on only 9% of the world's banknotes; 48 countries circulate a total of 120 bills that feature 46 women. Worldwide, there are roughly 1,300 bills.

Source: https://www.statista.com/chart/4771/women-on-banknotes-are-a-rarity/

The NZ $10 note, which features Katherine "Kate" Sheppard - the most prominent member of New Zealand's Women's Suffrage movement, is the only one of its five notes to sport the image of a women; apart from the ever-present Monarch who looks out from their $20.

The US Treasury recently announced Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War, will replace former president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. She will become the first woman featured on US paper currency.

Novelist Jane Austen will become the first woman to appear on a UK banknote when the new £10 note is printed 2017.

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