The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 6, February 5, 2023, Article 27


Forbes magazine published an article on the presence of woman on banknotes around the world, warning that the passing of Queen Elizabeth could lead to multiple changes. -Editor

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was featured on more banknotes than any other female by a long stretch, she might gradually disappear from them. Australia announced yesterday that the late queen will not grace new currency issues. While British territories or Commonwealth countries could decide to begin featuring the new British monarch, King Charles III, others—including Australia—will use the opportunity to move away from royal motives that could appear dated.

  Women on Banknotes

Women on banknotes still remain rare around the world and a phase-out of Elizabeth could be expected to decrease numbers even more. But an analysis of global banknotes shows that countries which begin to feature women are likely to continue doing so. Between 2016 and 2023, the number of independent countries that had women on their banknotes rose only by a handful to 46 as of February 2023. At the same time, eight countries that had already placed women on currency started to feature more.

Among the newcomers are Romania, now featuring a World War I heroine on the 20-Lei-bill, and Sierra Leone, which placed a trailblazing mayor and educationalist on the 20-Leones-bill, as well as Indonesia, Israel and Bolivia. Countries upping the number of women on their bills include Commonwealth countries that could soon stop to print banknote evergreen Elizabeth. Canada started to feature anti-segregationist Viola Desmond in 2018, while the Bank of England added author Jane Austen in 2017. Australia has actually featured four women other than Elizabeth on banknotes since the 1990s, while New Zealand and the Bahamas have currency depicting both Elizabeth II and a local female honorary.

More examples of women following women onto banknotes can be found in Latin America, where four countries feature three or more women each on their bills. The case of Mexico follows some typical patterns: In the 1970, the nun and writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz began to be featured on the country's currency. Women added to banknotes in the 20th century are indeed very often either religious heroines or artists, even though notable exceptions exist. During the 2000s and 2010s, the scope of which women were featured on currency generally widened. In Mexico, artist Frida Kahlo was added in 2010, while feminist Hermila Galindo and revolutionary Carmen Serdán followed in 2019. Peru also started out with a religious figure, saint Rose of Lima, on their new Sol currency in the 1990s, before historian María Rostworowski was added in 2021 together with two more women, Japanese-Peruvian painter Tilsa Tsuchiya and singer Chabuca Granda. Today, almost all countries in South America have women on their banknotes.

Female queens from England and antiquity

Currencies in Asia feature fewer women, but include some interesting and norm-defying entries. Kyrgyzstan for example features ballerina Bübüsara Beyshenalieva and stateswoman Kurmanjan Datka, who ruled a Kyrgyz khanate after her husband's assassination in the 19th century. The Philippines are not only the single country in the world depicting an elected female head of state, they have two on their banknotes: Former Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Corazon Aquino. Eurasia and North Africa are the places where queens other than Elizabeth appear on banknotes. They are much more historical, however: Queen Tamar, co-ruler of Georgia in the 12th century, Palmyran Empress Zenobia from modern-day Syria and Queen Dido of Carthage in what is today Tunisia.

To read the complete article, see:
Women On Banknotes Remain Rare [Infographic] (

Garrett Mid-American E-Sylum ad08b

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2023 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster