Canada Ranks Fourth Globally In Showcasing Women On Banknotes

Frontiers series banknotes
The front of Frontiers series banknotes, including the vertical $10 note featuring Viola Desmond. Photo courtesy of the Bank of Canada

Canada is tied for fourth globally when it comes to featuring females on its banknotes, according to a study conducted by TradersBest.

Of the 716 people showcased on banknotes from 115 countries, the study found that only 54 are women, while 662 are men. This striking disparity means that merely 1 in 12 individuals depicted on banknotes is a woman, representing only 7.54 per cent of people on banknotes. The United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Scotland) has the most women on their banknotes. Australia takes the second spot on the list. Mexico clinched third while Sweden, Denmark, and Canada are tied for fourth.

United Kingdom takes the lead

In England and Wales, the most represented are Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (£20) and Queen Elizabeth II (£5, £10). Scotland’s banknotes feature a diverse lineup of influential figures, each celebrated for their significant contributions.

Both Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II are featured on Scotland’s banknotes, adding a touch of royal elegance. Nan Shepherd (£5), a renowned Scottish writer and poet, shares the spotlight with Catherine Cranston (£20), a notable businesswoman and patron of the arts.

The £10 notes showcase Jane Austen, the acclaimed English novelist known for her incisive social commentary, as well as Mary Somerville, who earned the distinction of being the first woman named an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Mary Slessor, remembered for her impactful work in Nigeria during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is also honoured with a £10 note.

Elsie Inglis, a pioneering doctor and suffragist, is featured on the £50 note for her significant role in advancing medical care and women’s rights, alongside Flora Stevenson, acknowledged for her advocacy for social causes and dedication to improving education for girls.

Australian women on banknotes

Edith Cowan graces the $50 note, recognized as a social reformer and politician who achieved the historic milestone of becoming the first woman elected to an Australian parliament in 1921.

The $5 note features Queen Elizabeth II, while the $10 note pays tribute to Mary Gilmore, renowned for her poetry and contributions to the labour movement in the early 20th century. Nellie Melba, celebrated for her extraordinary vocal talent and contributions to classical music, is honoured on the $100 note.

Additionally, the $20 note features Mary Reibey, a pioneering businesswoman and former convict who played a pivotal role in shaping commerce and finance in early Australia.

What other countries are on the list?

Viola Desmond Banknote
Wanda Robson helps unveil the $10 banknote featuring her sister Viola Desmond in 2018. Photo courtesy of the Bank of Canada

In the third spot, Mexico features four influential women on its banknotes, including Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, an iconic writer; Hermila Galindo, a feminist and political activist; Carmen Serdán, a key figure in the Mexican Revolution; and Frida Kahlo, the renowned artist.

Sharing the fourth spot are Sweden, Denmark, and Canada, each with a trio of notable women on their banknotes. Sweden celebrates Astrid Lindgren, whose work had a significant impact on children’s literature; Greta Garbo, legendary actress; and Birgit Nilsson, acclaimed opera singer. Denmark pays homage to Anna Ancher, prominent artist; Karen Blixen, celebrated author; and Johanne Luise Heiberg, influential actress. Canada features Agnes Macphail, the country’s first female member of parliament; Viola Desmond, a civil rights activist; and Queen Elizabeth II.

For more details from the study, visit TradersBest.


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