Women have been the driving force of change in both this country and all around the world. Having come to the end of Black History Month and now celebrating Women’s History Month, the Canadian government just announced that Viola Desmond — a black civil rights activist — will be on its $10 bill. Viola Desmond, who passed away in 1965, is the first black woman and non-royalty person who will be on currency in Canada.
Viola Desmond began her activism for black rights in Canada nearly a decade before Rosa Parks started fighting for her rights in the United States. Desmond refused to get up from a “whites-only” seat at Roseland Theater in Nova Scotia on Nov. 8, 1946 and was later arrested for 12 hours and fined. She only received an apology and a pardon 64 years after the incident — posthumously.
The process for choosing who is featured on the currency is quite long, and this year there were 461 potential candidates for the face of the $10 bill. Desmond will replace Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald, who is the current face on the bill. It is a great honor that a woman of color who had such immense accomplishments in her life is able to represent not only the community she was fighting for, but also the lives of the generations to come after her. Desmond was chosen because she excelled in meeting the requirements of “outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field.”
This brings up the question of why no women — let alone women of color — have been featured on any American currency. In 2010, Mexico put Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera on the 500-peso bill, meaning the United States is the only country in North America that does not have a women on its currency. It’s slightly disappointing that even countries like Syria, a nation with a history of suppressing women’s rights until only recently, have women on their currency, but the United States still doesn’t. I’m hoping that with all of the progress that has been coming up in recent times with women stepping forward about their stories of sexual assault and harassment and even becoming the advocates for gun control, there will be a movement to put a woman on the face of some American money.
Money is as vital to any nation as women are to life in general. And, in my opinion, it gets kind of boring to look at the same faces of established white men on our currency. Instead of honoring just presidents and other men who have accomplished great things on our bills, I think there should be more representation of other people in this country who have also surpassed excellency in their respective fields. Those individuals should be represented on what is the face of our country as well. In addition, more than being discussed in history textbooks (if they are even given that platform to be represented), so many women from history and even present day have left a positive mark on the world and should be respected for both their accomplishments and who they are as people.
To grow up and to become a part of the impactful list of women who are incredibly strong and who fight for their rights is really empowering. To my generation of women, I am proud of who we are and who we are turning out to be. We are already accomplishing such incredible things, and I really can’t wait to see what comes next for us.
And to the generation who comes next, you are preceded by women who shine in their fields and who don’t let anyone hinder them from success. To be featured on the currency would be an immense honor, and it would allow girls and women everywhere feel like they are being represented and revered. We still have a long ways to go, but what we have already accomplished as a gender shows that we can do anything if we put all of our passion and energy into it.