Women on U.S. currency: Why has it taken us so long?


CODY DUKE | Scroll Illustration

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Wednesday that in the year 2020, there will be a new face on the $10 bill, and that the new face will be of a woman.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who makes the selection of an honoree, will disclose his choice by the end of the year and has chosen 2020 because it marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, according to The U.S. Department of  the Treasury.

“Young girls across this country will soon be able to see an inspiring woman on the $10 dollar bill, who helped shape our country into what it is today, and know that they too can grow up and do something great for their country,” according to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, in an interview with MSN, who had formerly introduced a bill in April to get a female face onto American currency. “Make no mistake, this is a historic announcement and a big step forward.”

Democracy is the theme for the next redesigned series and the Secretary will select a woman recognized by the public who was a champion for democracy in the United States, according to The U.S. Department of  the Treasury. The person should be iconic and have made a significant contribution to — or impact on — protecting the freedoms on which our nation was founded.

For the latest change, the Treasury Department has invited the public to use the hashtag #TheNew10 to spread the word about the redesign, according to The U.S. Department of the Treasury.

But in reality, this event was long overdue. Although it might seem like a remarkable step in the history of America, one has to wonder why it has taken this long to put the face of a woman on United States currency.

Should it really take 100 years to celebrate the historical women who helped establish this country as much as the men?

Other attempts to incorporate images of women onto the nation’s money have failed to take off. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea were briefly on $1 coins before the U.S. Mint stopped making them because of a lack of popularity, and Pocahontas was part of a group portrait on a bill circulated in the mid-19th century.

Although these attempts aimed to help honor these historical women, we can see they did not stick around.

The decision to put a woman’s face on the bill seems more of a bone thrown to those who have been saying there has been a need for a woman’s face on our currency for many years.

Even the decision, which ultimately pushed forward the $10 note change, was called a “happy coincidence” by the Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, according to CNN Money.

Is that what the contribution of so many women means to our nation?

For example, Eleanor Roosevelt, who is one of the suggested women to have her face on the new $10 bill, was not just a first lady. She is regarded by many as a leader of women’s and civil rights, as well as one of the first public officials to publicize important issues through the mass media.

Another woman with a significant amount of votes for the face of the new bill is Harriett Tubman, who risked her life over and over again to shuttle slaves to freedom in the Underground Railroad.

Another example is Maya Lin, the artist who designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., or the CIA operative who worked tirelessly for many years to find the terrorist and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, and succeeded, leading to his capture and death.

These are just four of the countless examples of remarkable women who have made this nation what it is today.

President Obama, who has two daughters, is behind the change to feature a woman on the $10 bill and says his girls are the reason why.

During a speech in Kansas City, Missouri, in July, Obama said he had received a letter from a 9-year-old girl asking him why there were no women on American money.

“I think there should be more women on a dollar/coin for the United States because if there were no women, there wouldn’t be men,” according to the letter to the President.

Going forward, this nation needs to be better about celebrating remarkable women and in a more timely manner.

Together, as a nation, let us contribute to make greater strides in the way we regard women, as well as anyone else who is advancing this country, and the democratic process.

After all, as that little girl stated, none of us would be here without them.

Copyright 2015 BYU-I Scroll