Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Women banknote petition delivered

Campaigners are calling for better female representation on banknotes

Scores of women dressed as inspirational figures from history have handed in a 30,000-strong petition to the Bank of England calling for better female representation on banknotes.

Campaigners, dressed as figures including Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, Middlemarch novelist George Eliot and Boudicca, the warrior queen who led a major uprising against occupying Roman forces, converged on the Bank in what was described as a "celebration" of women.

The petition follows a row over the choice of Sir Winston Churchill to appear on £5 notes in place of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry - one of only two women selected since historical figures were introduced in 1970.

The Bank's new governor, Mark Carney, who took up his role on Monday, has already agreed to review the lack of female representation and plans to make an announcement before the end of the month.

Freelance journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, 29, who posted the petition on the website Change.org, said that the Bank's head of notes, Victoria Cleland, who took receipt of the petition, has agreed to meet her on a date to be fixed next week.

Ms Criado-Perez, who was dressed as scientist Rosalind Franklin and whose mongrel puppy named Poppy was adorned in "votes for women" ribbons, described the meeting as a "positive" sign. She said: "The Bank has agreed to meet us next week, so that looks positive and I will be able to put my viewpoint to them. There has definitely been a shift in rhetoric, so we'll see."

Ms Criado-Perez has raised £13,000 from well-wishers to mount a legal challenge to the Bank under equality laws and has been in discussions with lawyers.

Mr Carney's predecessor, Sir Mervyn King, recently revealed that Pride And Prejudice novelist Jane Austen is the leading candidate to replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note, as and when it is changed.

The Bank has also come under pressure from politicians who have argued that while Churchill is a good choice for a banknote, the achievements of historic women should also be reflected on currency, alongside the Queen.

The petition says: "An all-male line-up on our banknotes sends out the damaging message that no woman has done anything important enough to appear. This is patently untrue."

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