- This infographic visualizes the women who have appeared on banknotes throughout history.
- Queen Elizabeth II is the most featured woman on a banknote worldwide.
- Authors, singers, poets and painters are featured on a number of different currencies, including Frida Kahlo on a 500 Mexican peso bill.
Visualizing the women on banknotes worldwide
A study by Swedish loan company Advisa analyzed 1,006 current international banknotes and found that only 15% featured images of women.
Who are these women, and which countries feature them on their bills?
The list: Women on bills
To create this graphic, Ivett used data from the Standard Catalogue of World Paper Money, compiled by Vox.
To see the other women featured worldwide, click here.
According to the dataset, Queen Elizabeth II is the most featured woman worldwide.
Canada was the first country to use an image of Queen Elizabeth II on their money. In 1935, Canada printed her on a $20 banknote—the British monarch was only a 9-year-old princess at the time. Now, Queen E appears on a variety of different banknotes in 19 different countries. In the Cayman Islands, she’s on their $1, $5, $25, $50, and $100.
A few other queens or royal members have made it onto different banknotes too—Georgia’s 50 lari note has an image of Queen Tamar, who was the Queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213, and Albania’s 100 lekë features Queen Teuta, a 3rd century queen of an Illyrian tribe.
While royals (especially Queen Elizabeth II) are frequently featured on bills worldwide, women in other positions have also made it onto banknotes.
Authors, singers, poets, and painters are featured on a number of different currencies. For instance, Sweden has Astrid Lindgren—the author of Pippi Longstocking—on their 20 kronor.
Sweden also features three other women on their bills: Birgit Nilsson, Jenny Lind, and Greta Garbo, making their banknote features an even 50/50 split between men and women.
A quick history of women featured on U.S. banknotes
Essentially the only time a woman was prominently featured on a U.S. banknote was in the late 19th century when Martha Washington—the wife of President George Washington—appeared on a $1 silver certificate.
This dearth of women on U.S. banknotes may soon come to an end. The Biden administration is now speeding up efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, an initiative that was delayed in recent years. When the plan was initially introduced by then Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew, in 2016, the new design was set to be unveiled in 2020 on the centennial of the 19th Amendment (which granted women the right to vote).
Women are still underrepresented
And even when women do hold authoritative positions, research has shown they’re taken less seriously than their male counterparts.
That’s why events like International Women’s Day exist. It’s not just a time to celebrate women’s achievements - it’s also a day to shed light on existing gender bias, and ultimately take action to help combat gender inequality.
What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?
The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.
The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.
These accelerators have been convened in ten countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Panama in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.
In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.
In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.
If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.
If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.