During my lunch break at work today I read that women are not to be included on the new British banknotes. I am not a "bra-burning feminist" but how irritating! Of course, the new favourite is Winston Churchill.
Apparently, the criteria required is that the historical figure must be dead, not controversial, he or she must have contributed to British society and thus would be a recognisable figure to hundreds of people. How many women have influenced British society, the economy, and the political world? Thousands. Here are just a few I have thought of - Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover DNA; Mary Wollestonecraft, mother of Mary Shelley, was the first female feminist who wrote 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' in 1792; Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman in Britain to become a doctor; Elizabeth Blackwell, born in England, was the first woman in America to become a doctor (who bravely sheltered African American patients during the violent Draft Riots in New York 1863) - the list is endless!
Most people may not have heard of these women. But few have probably heard of Elizabeth Fry, the famous c19th social reformer who is currently on the £5 banknote. So why not use one of these women? And the issue of controversy? While Churchill is the obvious choice for the Tories, he remains a very controversial figure for his role in the bloody fiasco that was Gallipoli, as well as the nasty negotiations with the miners.
And it does not surprise me there are no black men or women. What about Mary Seacole??!
Hopefully in the not so distant future this will change.