Here’s a question for you. Apart from the Queen, how many women are featured on our bank notes? Answer: alongside Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Matthew Boulton and James Watt there is just one: the social reformer Elisabeth Fry. But the lone female on the list is about to be chopped after the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King announced this week that Winston Churchill will replace Fry as the face on the back of £5 notes. Now a petition has been started to protest the decision.
Writing on her website, The Women’s Room, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez says: ‘This decision by the Bank of England is yet another example of women’s considerable achievements being overlooked in favour of the usual (male) suspects – and yet another example of how the establishment undervalues the contributions of women to history – and indeed to the present.’
Does it matter? It’s only a note after all. Yes, says Criado-Perez. ‘Currency, as its name suggests, is fundamental to our daily lives. These notes will change hands every hour, every minute, every second. And every time they do, the message will drive a little deeper home: women do not belong in public life.’ Rebecca Taylor
Put your mouth where your money is and sign the petition at thewomensroom.org.uk. Which women would you like to see on a banknote?