Woman On $10 Dollar Notes? Here’re 20 Countries That Have Already Done That

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Jun 20 2015
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Americans will get to see a woman on their paper money, scheduled to be released in 2020. As strange as it may sound, there’s not a single woman appears on any of the U.S. money notes, despite the country being the champion of human rights, animal rights, women rights, and whatnot.


When the Treasury Department announced Wednesday that a woman will appear on $10 dollar note, it raises millions of eyebrows. Finally, the United States have figured out what they had missing all this while. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew is asking the public to propose which female historical figure should appear on the bill.

US Money 10 Dollar Note Alexander Hamilton

The choice of the lucky female will be disclosed by the end of the year. Still, public have to wait until 2020 for the new note’s release – the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Presently, Alexander Hamilton,  the country’s first secretary of the treasury, appears on the $10 dollar notes.


In actual fact, the new $10 note with a female figure is not the first woman to be honoured in such way. The first American woman had appeared on U.S. paper money about 120 years ago. She was Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

US George Washington and Wife Martha Washington

The first lady was featured on the $1 silver certificate, which was the common form of U.S. currency back in the 1880s. Of course, during those days, the $1 silver certificate was backed by physical gold, unlike today where the U.S. government can print as much money notes as they like, whenever they like.


Martha Washington was selected simply because there weren’t many high-profile women to chose from. However, when the note was redesigned and a new $1 silver note issued in 1896, the portrait of Martha Washington disappeared altogether. But in terms of coins, women have had slightly better representation.

Global Currencies - US Dollar, UK Pound, Euro

While the Americans are busy lobbying for a woman of their choice to be printed on the new $10 bill, there’re already tonnes of currencies around the world from different countries that have women portraits. Some countries such as Australia and Sweden have more than one woman being honoured. Let’s take a look at 20 countries that have done that.



{ 1 }  Mexico

Woman on Currency Note - Mexico - 500 Peso Frida Kahlo

The country’s infamous artist Frida Kahlo appears on the back of 500 Peso note. Interestingly, her husband, also an artist – Diego Rivera – features on the front.



{ 2 }  Philippines

Woman on Currency Note - Philippines - 500 Peso Corazon Aquino

Former President Corazon Aquino appears on the country’s 500 Peso note, alongside her late husband – Benigno Aquino Jr – who was assassinated in 1983, forcing the housewife Corazon into politics. When dictator Ferdinand Marcos attacked her as inexperience in politics, she infamously replied by admitting she had “no experience in cheating, lying to the public, stealing government money, and killing political opponents.”



{ 3 }  New Zealand

Woman on Currency Note - New Zealand - 10 Dollar Katherine Wilson Kate Sheppard

Katherine Wilson “Kate” Sheppard,  the most prominent member of New Zealand’s Women’s Suffrage, appears on the country’s 10 dollar note. New Zealand was the first nation in the world to guarantee women’s voting rights back in 1883. One of the streets in Wellington’s parliament precinct – Kate Sheppard Place – is named after her too.



{ 4 }  Turkey

Woman on Currency Note - Turkey - 50 Lira Fatma Aliye Topuz

Fatma Aliye Topuz, or simply Fatma Aliye, was not only a Turkish women’s rights activist, but also a novelist, columnist, essayist, and humanitarian. Fatma Aliye with her five novels is credited as the first female novelist in Turkish literature and the Islamic world. She appears on Turkey’s 50 Lira note.



{ 5 }  Syria

Woman on Currency Note - Syria - 500 Pound Queen Zenobia

Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. As the second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, she later became queen and had expanded the empire, conquering Egypt and expelling the Roman prefect, Tenagino Probus. Queen Zenobia appears on Syria’s 500 pound note.



{ 6 }  Cameroon

Woman on Currency Note - Cameroon - 2000 Franc Unidentified Woman

An unidentified woman appears on the front of the country’s 2000 Franc note. It also features tropical fruits and the map of Central African States. The back of the note features harbour scene. In fact, several other Central African countries have women on their notes, showing the importance of women in the communities.



{ 7 }  Japan

Woman on Currency Note - Japan - 5000 Yen Ichiyō Higuchi - Natsu Higuchi

Japan’s 5,000 Yen note has Ichiyō Higuchi appears on it. But this is only the pen name of Japanese first prominent woman writer in modern time. Her actual name is Natsu Higuchi. Specializing in short stories, she was one of the first important writers to appear in the Meiji period. She died young at the age of 24, but obviously her stories had a great impact.



{ 8 }  Australia

Woman on Currency Note - Australia - 100 Dollar Dame Nellie Melba

Australia – 100 Dollar Dame Nellie Melba

Dame Nellie Melba,  born Helen Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. As one of the world’s most famous opera singer of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century, she appears on Australia’s 100 dollar note. Interestingly, she took the pseudonym “Melba” from Melbourne, her home town.

Woman on Currency Note - Australia - 20 Dollar Mary Reibey

Australia – 20 Dollar Mary Reibey

Woman on Currency Note - Australia - 10 Dollar Dame Mary Gilmore

Australia – 10 Dollar Dame Mary Gilmore

Woman on Currency Note - Australia - 50 Dollar Edith Cowan

Australia – 50 Dollar Edith Cowan

Woman on Currency Note - Australia - 5 Dollar Queen Elizabeth II

Australia – 5 Dollar Queen Elizabeth II

Other women feature on Australia notes include 19th century successful business woman Mary Reibey on the front of 20 dollar note, prominent socialist and journalist Dame Mary Gilmore on the back of 10 dollar note, first woman elected to the Australian Parliament Edith Cowan on the back of 50 dollar note. So, now you know how the Edith Cowan University got its name. Of course, there’s also Queen Elizabeth II on 5 dollar note



{ 9 }  Argentina

Woman on Currency Note - Argentina - 100 Peso María Eva Duarte de Perón

María Eva Duarte de Perón, or simply Eva Perón, was the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. Also known as “Evita”, she was very popular with low-income and working-class Argentines, who otherwise known as the “shirtless ones”. Evita appears on Argentina’s 100 Peso note.



{ 10 }  Sweden

Woman on Currency Note - Sweden - 20 Krona Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

Sweden – 20 Krona Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

Woman on Currency Note - Sweden - 20 Krona Astrid Lindgren

Sweden – 20 Krona Astrid Lindgren

Just like Australia, Sweden seems to have recognised women contribution much earlier than America. And Sweden has several of them. Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, appears on the country’s 20 Krona note. There’s a new woman to be featured on 20 Krona note too – Astrid Lindgren – author of children’s book character “Pippi Longstocking”.

Woman on Currency Note - Sweden - 500 Krona Jenny Lind

Sweden – 500 Krona Jenny Lind

Woman on Currency Note - Sweden - 50 Krona Birgit Nilsson

Sweden – 50 Krona Birgit Nilsson

Woman on Currency Note - Sweden - 100 Krona Greta Garbo

Sweden – 100 Krona Greta Garbo

Sweden’s 50 Krona note has Jenny Lind appears on it. She was a Swedish  opera singer, often known as the “Swedish Nightingale”. 20th century soprano Birgit Nilsson who sang the operas of Richard Strauss appears on 500 Krona note, while classic film actress Greta Garbo appears on 100 Krona note.



{ 11 }  Denmark

Woman on Currency Note - Denmark - 50 Kroner Karen von Blixen-Finecke

Denmark – 50 Kroner Karen von Blixen-Finecke

Karen von Blixen-Finecke, a Danish author under her pen name Isak Dinesen appears on 50 Kroner note. She is best known for her account of living in Kenya – “Out o Africa” (1937). During World War II, when Denmark was occupied by the Nazis, she wrote “The Angelic Avengers”. Published in 1944, it tells the horrors experienced by the young heroines.



{ 12 }  Israel

Woman on Currency Note - Israel - 20 and 100 Shekel Rachel Bluwstein Sela and Leah Goldberg

Israel has announced two women to be featured on its newly-designed currency. Poet Rachel Bluwstein Sela on the 20 Shekel note, Leah Goldberg on the 100 Shekel note. Rachel (died in 1931) was a leading Hebrew poet whose works have been set to music, while Goldberg  who died in 1970, was a poet, author, playwright, literary translator and researcher of Hebrew literature who translated “War and Peace” into Hebrew.

Woman on Currency Note - Israel - 10000 Shekel Golda Meir

Israel – 10,000 Shekel Golda Meir

But prior to that, Golda Meir, the country’s Prime Minister from 1969 to 1974 had already appeared on Israel’s 10,000 Shekel, which then changed to 10 Shekel note after a devaluation in 1985.



{ 13 }  Chile

Woman on Currency Note - Chile - 5000 Peso Gabriela Mistral - Lucila Godoy Alcayaga

Gabriela Mistral, the pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet-diplomat, educator and feminist. She was Latin America’s first woman to receive Nobel Prize in Literature (1945). At the age of 15, she became a school teacher and began composing poetry. She appears on Chile’s 5,000 Peso note.



{ 14 }  Poland

Woman on Currency Note - Poland - 20000 Zloty Marie Curie

Scientist Marie Curie appeared on the Polish 20,000 Zloty note, as well as on the last French 500 Franc note together with her husband Pierre, before the Franc currency was replaced by the Euro note. She is the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences – Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911). The world will not be the same without her discovery of radioactivity, polonium and radium.



{ 15 }  Norway

Woman on Currency Note - Norway - 500 Krone Sigrid Undset

Sigrid Undset, a Norwegian born in Denmark, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928. A writer, her best known work is a trilogy about life in Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, experienced by a woman from birth to death. She appears in the country’s 500 Krone note.



{ 16 }  German

Woman on Currency Note - German - 100 Deutschmark Clara Schumann

Clara Schumann, was a German musician and composer  who wrote her piano concerto at the age of 14 and performed it two years later, kicking off a 61-year career. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann. She appeared on the Germany 100 Deutschmark note, before replaced by the Euro. There was a piano on the back of the note.



{ 17 }  Italy

Woman on Currency Note - Italy - 1000 Lire Maria Montessori

Before converting to Euro, Italy’s 1,000 Lire note features Maria Montessori, a physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name. Her educational method is in use today in some public and private schools throughout the world. The next time someone mentions Montessori education, you know what that means.



{ 18 }  Malta

Woman on Currency Note - Malta - 20 Lira Agatha Barbara

Agatha Barbara became the first and only woman among the 40 MPs in Malta, and she was the only woman candidate to successfully contest in 10 consecutive elections, until 1982, when she resigned to become President – the first and only woman president of Malta. Agatha appeared on the old series – 20 Lira – of monetary notes of Malta.



{ 19 }  England

Woman on Currency Note - England - 50 Pound Queen Elizabeth II

England – 50 Pound Queen Elizabeth II

Woman on Currency Note - England - 10 Pound Florence Nightingale

England – 10 Pound Florence Nightingale

Woman on Currency Note - England - 5 Pound Elizabeth Fry

England – 5 Pound Elizabeth Fry

Woman on Currency Note - England - New 10 Pound Jane Austen

England – New 10 Pound Jane Austen

Needless to say, Queen Elizabeth II has been appearing on the country’s front notes ever since 1960. But she was not the only one woman appears on the currency. Florence Nightingale appears on the back of 10 Pounds note, 19th century prison and social reformer Elizabeth Fry appears on 5 Pounds note. The next new 10 Pounds bill will feature author Jane Austen, scheduled for a mid-2016 release.



{ 20 }  United States of America

Woman on Currency Note - America - 1 Silver Dollar Martha Washington

America – 1 Silver Dollar Martha Washington

Martha Washington, President George Washington’s wife, was the first woman to appear on U.S. currency note and to this day is the only woman on a banknote. She appeared on US$1 silver certificate in 1886, 1891 and 1896, and later with hubby, the first POTUS. Okay, I know this does not count as the 20th country which has a woman portrait on currency note. But since it was 120-years ago


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