The U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew confirmed yesterday that a woman will grace the face of the newly redesigned $10 bill in five years' time. This update to our nation's currency is significant: It will commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment, where women were granted the right to vote.
As of yet, we still don't know who the mystery woman will be. Public commentary will be heard on the matter, but Secretary Lew has the final say, even superseding President Obama. Current legal guidelines state that the likeness on a bill cannot still be living, and George Washington must remain in his $1 bill rent-controlled spot. Lew plans to keep the redesigned $10 bill familiar with one very important upgrade: a portrait of a woman where Hamilton used to be.
While this isn't the first time a woman's likeness has been used on U.S. paper currency — Martha Washington was on the $1 Silver Certificate from 1891 to 1896 — this $10 bill update is still a big deal for several reasons. As Secretary Lew points out, this will be the first bill in more than a century to feature a woman.
Another reason this money makeover matters is because the change started with a young feminist. The announcement of a woman printed on the $10 bill came on the heels of a campaign created by 9-year-old Sofia last year, who wrote a letter to President Obama requesting that a woman finally appear on currency again. Sofia was even kind enough to include her list of suggested candidates.
Little activist Sofia is in good company. The grassroots group Women on 20s (W20) has also been campaigning to replace President Jackson on the $20 bill with a woman. Like Sofia, W20 came prepared with an excellent lineup of potential female candidates for our $20 currency, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger and Rachel Carson. Harriet Tubman was a frontrunner for the organization since her heroism in helping slaves escape through the Underground Railroad was the perfect contrast to slave-owning Jackson.
Personally, I couldn't be happier to see this big step for women spurred on by the government. I would be even happier to see more progress made by featuring a prominent woman of color on the bill, like Harriet Tubman.
Now we have something to look forward to in 2020. A yet-to-be-determined woman will be joining the boys' club on U.S. currency. This is a big win for women everywhere, and it's also about time. Next on the agenda: Making sure women get paid just as many of these bills as men do.
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