81 banknotes feature women and 324 feature men
According to a Quartz analysis of 622 banknotes from 75 economies representing 96.5% of the global GDP, women are featured on 81 banknotes and men on 324, a ratio of one woman for 4 men. Of the 81 women represented, 59 are identified persons while 22 are anonymous figures such as a farmer in Angola or dancers in Indonesia.
3 countries have achieved banknote gender parity
A 2017 study by Swedish loan comparison company Advisa, concludes that only three countries have achieved banknote gender equality: Sweden, Australia and Japan. 83 countries feature only men on their banknotes.
Cash is Queen
Queen Elisabeth II holds the record for the number of banknotes on which she is featured with 42 notes, mostly from countries where she is the reigning monarch: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom. This accounts for half of the banknotes featuring women.
Liang Jun, from tractor driver to national icon
One of the first women to appear on a banknote was Liang Jun from China. In 1948, she became the first woman to drive a tractor, one year before the creation of the People’s Republic of China. Born in a poor family in 1930, she seized the opportunity when the local school opened a course to train tractor drivers.
Liang Jun became one of the first and best known model workers, promoted by the communist state propaganda. Her story was written in primary school textbooks and she inspired young women to drive tractors and embrace new opportunities offered to them. She became an engineer and a politician.
In 1962, her smiling portrait appeared on the one yuan note issued by the People’s Bank of China. The banknote series was replaced in 1980 with a new set of coins and banknotes, and Liang Jun herself retired from her position as chief engineer of the Harbin Municipal Bureau of Agricultural Machines in 1990. She died on 14 January 2020, at the age of 90.
Last year, CashEssentials shared some banknote-able ladies during International Womens Day, highliting the value women bring to their respective communities — and currencies! Read more here.