It's International Women's Day but just 12 per cent of world's bank notes feature women

Inequality on bank notes

Very few bank notes around the world feature women (photo: Unsplash)
Very few bank notes around the world feature women (photo: Unsplash)

Inequality on bank notes

To mark International Women’s Day (March 8), leading foreign exchange provider, eurochange, conducted research into the inequality that still exists on global currency today.

Shockingly, just 12 per cent of banknotes across the globe depict a female figure and some countries have yet to feature a woman on their currency, even in 2022.

Men heavily represented on bank notes

Meanwhile, men account for the representation seen on approximately 88 per cent of global currency, with this rising to 91 per cent if we weren’t to include those that feature the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

First historical female figure on note

It wasn’t until 1975, when Florence Nightingale appeared on the £10 note, that the Bank of England brought out its first banknote featuring a historical woman.

In 1975 Florence Nightingale appeared on the £10 note (photo: Bank of England)

This moment marked the beginning of women appearing on British currency, with the Elizabeth Fry £5 entering circulation in 2002 and the Jane Austen £10 note in 2017.

An image of the British prison reform campaigner Elizabeth Fry on the reverse of a five pound note (photo: adobe)
New 10 Pound note relased September 14, 2017 with Jane Austen on reverse (photo: adobe)

Yet, only three women have so far been featured as the main historical figures on British bank notes, whereas 12 have featured men, excluding depictions of Queen Elizabeth II.

At least 35 countries have our monarch on their currency

Our reigning monarch appears on the currency of at least 35 countries, including Canada, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand, making Her Majesty the record holder for the most appearances on global coinage.

Despite the attempts at improvement to gender inequality in recent years, there is still a clear disproportion in appearances of women on banknotes, as some countries, including Singapore and Oman, are still yet to bring out a female-faced bank-note.

Woman from history on American bank note

America is among the countries to have rarely featured women on its bank notes, but President Joe Biden is rumoured to be accelerating the production of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, which will replace the depiction of former slave owner Andrew Jackson.

The note would mark the first female appearance on a dollar bank note in over 100 years and the first black woman.

No women on middle eastern currency

None of the world’s strongest currencies in 2022, each of which circulate in middle eastern countries with fewer women’s rights (the Kuwaiti Dinar, Bahraini Dinar, Omani Rial, Jordanian Dinar), include a depiction of a female figure.

Australia leading the way

On the contrary, Australia has always featured a woman on its banknotes since it began printing currency, with Edith Cowan, the first woman to serve as a member of Australian parliament, among the inspirational figures to appear. Interestingly, every one of the country’s bank notes feature a male figure on one side and a female on the reverse.

Scandinavia also ahead of the curve

Scandinavian countries are also ahead of the curve, as 60 per cent of Denmark’s bank notes show a female figure along with 50 per cent of Sweden’s.

The women depicted on Scandinavian currency are predominantly famous for their contributions to art and literacy, including Danish painter Anna Archer and Swedish opera singer Birgit Nilsson.

Managing director at eurochange, Charles Stewart,  said: “In almost every country in the world, you’re much more likely to see a man on the face of a bank note than you are a woman."

He added: "The huge gender disparity on currency, that’s still apparent in 2022, means that we’ve got a long way to go in creating an equally representative society.

“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women all over the world, including those that will hopefully be the future faces of bank notes in years to come.

"We want to spread awareness of modern-day inequality and encourage others to join the efforts to improve visibility for women and help to break the bias.”

For more information from eurochange visit website.

Further information on International Women’s Day can be found by visiting website.