An analysis of all the world’s banknotes currently in circulation revealed that only 80 banknotes feature depictions of women. Out of the major nations examined, Sweden, Australia, and Denmark are the only ones that have achieved gender parity on their banknotes, with women’s faces making up at least 50% of the total faces featured.
A small handful of countries stand out when it comes to female representation on currency. Australia is the only nation that has women on every one of their currently issued banknotes. Scandinavian countries fare well, too. 60% of Sweden’s banknotes depict a woman, as do 50% of Denmark’s.
The study, which was conducted by Ubuy South Africa a cross-border shopping platform, analyzed all of the banknotes currently in circulation and counted the number of appearances of men and women on each banknote.
According to the study, Australia leads the way with five women featured on their banknotes, followed by Sweden and Scotland with four each. The Czech Republic, Colombia and Denmark each feature three women on their banknotes, while the Dominican Republic, England, Canada, Norway Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Argentina, and Israel feature two.
Australia leads the way with the most women featured on its banknotes. Australia has made great strides in achieving gender equality on its banknotes, with a woman featuring on one side of every banknote currently in circulation. The Australian banknotes feature notable women such as Queen Elizabeth II, social reformer Dame Mary Gilmore, businesswoman Mary Reibey, social worker and Australia’s first female parliamentarian Edith Cowan, and vocalist Dame Nellie Melba, all of whom have made significant contributions to Australian society.
Scandinavian countries are also ahead of the curve, as 60% of Sweden’s bank notes show a female figure along with 50% of Denmark’s and 40% of Norway’s. Given their strong performance in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report rankings, it is not surprising that the Nordic nations are leading the way in celebrating women’s achievements on their banknotes.
Sweden, in particular, stands out as a country that has made significant strides in this area with four of their banknotes featuring women followed by Denmark with three and Norway with two.
Sweden’s banknotes include notable women such as the author Astrid Lindgren, opera singers Jenny Lind and Birgit Nilsson as well as the actress Greta Garbo. Banknotes in
Denmark feature the artist Anna Ancher, the actress Johanne Luise Heiberg and the author Karen Blixen. Norway features the Nobel prize winner, Sigrid Undset and the opera singer Kirsten Falgstad.
Scotland is another country that makes the top list for featuring the most women on their banknotes.
Currently, Scotland’s banknotes feature four remarkable women who have made significant contributions to Scottish society and beyond – Nan Shepherd, Mary Somerville, Elsie Inglis, and Mary Slessor.
To address criticism of under-representation of women on its currency, the Bank of England made an announcement in July 2013 to include celebrated 19th-century novelist Jane Austen on the new £10 note, replacing naturalist Charles Darwin. Despite having Queen Elizabeth II featured on every note since 1960, the Bank of England acknowledged the need for more diversity in its currency.
In September 2017, the newest £10 note was released with Jane Austen as the face of the note. In addition to Austen, other notable women such as social reformer Elizabeth Fry and nurse and statistician Florence Nightingale have also previously graced England’s banknotes.
The United States joins North Korea, Russia, China, South Africa and India amongst the other large countries that don’t feature any women on their banknotes. All of the people featured on American currency are white politicians.
The absence of women on American banknotes is a reflection of the country’s historically male-dominated political and economic systems. However, there have been calls for change in recent years, with some advocating for women such as Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and political activist, to be featured on American currency.
The profession of the women depicted on banknotes from various countries is diverse, ranging from a guerrilla military leader and a shipowner to a former president. However, the most frequently represented occupation is that of a poet or author.
Of the female figures featured on banknotes, eight are writers, including Astrid Lindgren in Sweden, who wrote the popular children’s book “Pippi Longstocking,” and Jane Austen in the UK. Notably, Queen Elizabeth II has a significant impact on these statistics, as she appears on 19 different banknotes across different countries.
|Country||No. of women featured on banknotes|
|Antigua and Barbuda||1|
|Isle of Man||1|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||1|