Life’s not just about monarchs and men: Why I want women on our banknotes.
I think there should be women on our banknotes. It is one of those things that annoys me because it appears to be needlessly institutionally sexist. It is simply obtuse to look at the level of protest and decide not to reconsider.
Imagine the outcry if the Bank of England had decided that in future our notes were only going to feature women. Or only non-white people. Or only notable homosexuals. There would be acres of newsprint expended decrying this as political correctness gone mad, and people asking how such a decision could get all the way to being made and announced without people thinking it might end up being perceived negatively.
Yet, if you casually drop into a redesign process that there are no longer going to be any notable women from history on our currency, complaining about it is seen in some quarters as “radical”.
The most irritating argument, however, is the one that runs “Oh, you silly woman. Haven’t you noticed that the Queen is on all our banknotes? We probably have more pictures of women on our money than any other country in the world.”
For me, putting notable people on money is about recognising their achievements, and setting them up as role models. A debate about the merits of hereditary monarchy is one I’ll happily defer for another day. But at this moment, in England, we are going to end up with the only female face on our currency belonging to the only woman who uniquely I have to tell my daughter that, because of the accident of birth, she can never aspire to be.
I hope it helps towards making it clear that, in the 21st century, it should never again be acceptable for the Bank of England to propose that the only people who can be honoured with appearing on our money are monarchs and men.