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On April 15, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced the Women on the Twenty Act to Congress in hopes of replacing Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill with an accomplished woman in history.

America is a nation that prides itself on providing citizens with certain inalienable rights and freedoms, and as a country, it has come a long way from treating women as second-class citizens.

There have been many powerful women in America, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Addams, who have added to the further advancement of this independent country. However, Americans have yet to pay tribute to the triumphs that these powerful female figures overcame in order to bring about any kind of social, political or cultural change.

Women like Rosa Parks and Sandra Day O’ Connor have become cultural icons through their advocacy for human rights and societal change; however, not one of these women has been deemed worthy enough to be celebrated in the monetary system of this country.

Last year in the United Kingdom, activist Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned to place Jane Austen on the £10 note. Shortly after England began printing the currency, Criado-Perez faced rape and death threats. It is incredibly appalling to think that, in the 21st century, there are still such oppositions to women’s equality, especially since the decision to place a woman on the bill will not affect any rights that belong to men.

As for the United States, similar backlash can be expected if this bill is passed, because like-minded people exist in every country. Therefore, it is likely that Senator Shaheen, along with other supports of this bill, may face similar intimidations, but it is important to accept that opposition is an expected condition of trying to achieve change.

However, it is time America recognized and gave credit to strong females in history. Agreeing to place a woman on the twenty dollar bill is a symbolic gesture of the existent power and rights that women have already worked to establish.

Today, in the 21st century, the likelihood of having the first female president is a foreseeable possibility. However, it is likely there will be people who oppose female equality and would like to continue to oppress women.

Yet it is even more important to realize that this should move beyond being a gender issue, and instead focus on recognizing individuals who have helped make this country what it is today, whether they are a man or a woman.

Also, if America is willing to place Susan B. Anthony or Sacagawea on the dollar coin, how is that any different than allowing a woman to grace the face of paper currency?

Senator Shaheen did not propose this act for the sake of putting a female on the twenty dollar bill, but to grant acknowledgement for their accomplishments in the betterment of our society. As Shaheen said, “We need to recognize the contributions of some of the women in American history.”

If this act is passed, then women will finally be recognized and placed on something as essential as paper money. As a result,  this will create more opportunities for equality by allowing women to be included in a system they had otherwise been excluded from.

Therefore, no matter who is chosen to be the face of the new twenty dollar bill, it is not about gender but about the principle of recognizing success. However, if the decision happened to end up being a female, more Americans will take notice and be reminded of what women have contributed to the foundation that has built this nation.

Lusine Bareghamyan is a fifth-year international studies major and literary journalism minor. She can be reached at lbaregha@uci.edu.

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