April 14, 2015

Women on 20s – the first woman to be portrayed on an American dollar note!

The time of women is now! This is the principle guiding Chime for Change, the global initiative for women’s rights and opportunities founded by Gucci. It is now because no step towards the normalisation of their status needs to be postponed any longer. And because the momentum of the great accomplishments by and in the name of women worldwide – from Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize to the support 13 survivors of human trafficking got via Chime for Change – make this be one of the best times in history for accelerating the pace of progress.

Such an example comes from the United States: the gathering of signatures for the submitting of a petition with the American presidency so that the Treasury Secretary mandate the replacing of one of the (exclusively) men depicted on the dollar bills by a woman.

Why would one wish such a thing? The initiators of the campaign speak about two types of purposes. As much practical as they are symbolic. What they and their already hundreds of thousands of supporters are, ultimately, after is that by 2020 – the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote – this step be taken and a token of balancing out another status quo discriminatorily validating men and one that, through the omnipresence of paper currency in our lives, be a reminder of what still remains to be done.

Women on 20s Chime for Change

The necessary votes and President Barack Obama’s regard for the cause have already been met by Women on 20s. Plus the campaign is now in the final stage of electing the woman to be submited for headlining the 20 dollars note.

Initially, there were over 100 candidates to meet the criteria of impact on society and difficulty overcome for running their activities or furthering their cause. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, painter Georgia O’Keefe or writer Sylvia Plath were among the initial selection. Over the following voting phase several other iconic women have been eliminated, such as the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Amelia Earhart, the author of the first American novel to feature a black hero (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) Harriet Beecher Stowe, the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA degree Helen Keller, the first American woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Jane Addams or the first female attorney to argue before the US Supreme Court Belva Lockwood.

This so as the last 4 candidates from among which the final proposal to be chosen be Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller.

Women on 20s Chime for Change

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Harriet Tubman – “If she had been a white woman, she would have been heralded as the greatest woman of her age.”

Harriet Tubman was born sometime between 1820-1825 in Dorchester County, Maryland – daughter of a family of 9 children born to bonded slave parents. She and her siblings were, gradually, separated by being sold to different slave owners. At the age of 13 she suffered a major cerebral trauma that left her scarred for life: seizures, headaches and narcolepsy – she had been hit for denying participating in the tying down of a slave that had attempted to flee.

Still, in 1848, confronting perils hard to imagine, she escaped the landlord she was bound to and took refuge in Philadelphia. To then, over the course of the following years, go back 19 times to, virtually, kidnap from slavery her brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, parents as well as strangers. Her biggest achievement in her own eyes was not to have failed in any of her rescuing expeditions.

She, then, was a member of the women’s equality and suffrage movement.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”

 

Eleanor Roosevelt – wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, United Nations Delegate and one of the most influential women of the 20th century

Known and loved by the Americans for the firmness and straightforwardness with which she freely expressed her opinions and rallied behind points of view often unpopular at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first wife of a president to pin onto the First Lady title expressions of active social involvement.

Among the topics for which she expressed interest were women’s and children’s rights, those of workers and minorities. She supported the Red Cross and took strides for the bettering of the support provided to the mentally ill. This without speaking of her crucial role in her husband’s political success.

More, her manner of communication through, for example, all-women press conferences and attitudes as giving up her Daughters of the American Revolution membership when the association boycotted the concert of African-American artist Marian Anderson brought to the one dubbed by President Truman ’’First Lady of the World’’ appreciation as well as affection.

 

Wilma Mankiller – the first elected female chief of a Native nation, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Born as one of 11 children to a Cherokee father and Dutch-Irish origin mother, Wilma Mankiller grew up in a home with no electricity or running water. At 11 she got relocated together with her family and community to the city, to San Francisco, the place where instead of the jobs the state had promised, they encountered even more discrimination than what they had been facing on their native lands. Slowly, nonetheless, she started to become more and more involved with the Native American programs in public schools. She founded the Community Development Department for the Cherokee Nation and worked closely with Ross Swimmer, the chief to have preceded her as a leader of the Cherokee nation: water systems, housing, medical centers, programs for children, halving the rate of unemployment.

“Prior to my election, Cherokee girls would have never thought that they might grow up and become chief.”

 

Rosa Parks – “the mother of the freedom movement”

Raised by her maternal grandparents, former slaves, and witnessing, during her first years of life, the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, being a target of discrimination or attending a black-only school, Rosa Parks had a life scarred by the mentality and racial realities of the early 20th century United States.

On December 1st 1955, going home from work, Parks sat down on the bus on one of the first black row seats. When all of the seats at the front of the bus, the whites’ section, were taken, the driver asked everyone on Parks’ row to give their seats up to the white passengers. Parks denied. It wasn’t the only or the first act of defying the segregationist laws, but it was the one that triggered, a year of boycott and many arrests later, a process that culminated in the ruling of bus segregation as unconstitutional.

Leading figure of the fight against racial discrimination, next to Martin Luther King, Parks is being remembered the way she liked it to: ’’as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free’’.

 

’’Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history.” says Gloria Steinem. So, let’s raise our voices for change. Chime for Change!

 

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Photos: mintnewsblog.com, womenon20s.org