It seems ironic that while women control as much as 80 percent of the consumer buying decisions in this country and increasingly are taking the helm at businesses large and small, they are not represented on the bills in our wallets. There’s one woman who’s on a mission to change that — WIPP member Barbara Ortiz Howard and her nonprofit Women On 20s.
This week, in conjunction with the start of Women’s History Month, Barbara and her team hope Americans everywhere will visit the website, www.womenon20s.org to have them vote on their choice for the woman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Treasury code requires that portraits on paper currency be of individuals of great stature, but they have to be deceased. Changing one of those faces can be ordered by the Treasury Secretary or the President without an act of Congress. Last August, President Obama tipped his hat toward the idea of featuring more women on U.S. currency in an off-the-cuff remark during a speech in Ohio. Barbara’s strategy is to encourage him to take the next step with a public mandate achieved through this online referendum. Barbara believes that having a woman’s portrait on our paper money “can become a symbol of greater changes to come.” Recognizing women’s historical accomplishments and contributions to our society by “elevating them to their rightful place alongside men on our money,” she says, “is something that’s long overdue.”
Part of the Women On 20s mission is to have the new “woman’s bill” issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. While no Congressional approval is required, the process of producing a new issue can take several years, from commissioning to design to minting. The organization believes the $20 bill is ripe for change. It’s due for a redesign in keeping with efforts to prevent counterfeiting.
Barbara, owner of All County Restoration, a roofing company outside of New York City, is no stranger to the challenges of working in a male-dominated business. She has long been irked by the absence of a woman’s image on our paper money. About a year ago she decided to try and do something about it by launching the Women On 20s campaign. She took her inspiration from her daughter and her athletic, “sporty-girl” friends. She explained, “as they grew up I wanted to honor their individuality, pride and expectations that they’ll be valued as women who can and will succeed on a level playing field with men.”
Women On 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone says she shaped the campaign not only to achieve the goal of getting a woman’s portrait on the $20 bill, but to educate and stimulate conversation, “not just a national conversation, but conversation at every dinner table in America.” By recognizing the accomplishments of the 15 women on the slate of candidates, she said, “we hope to honor all women. The idea is to give as many Americans as possible a chance to take part in something so much larger than just changing a face on a bill.”
WIPP supports the Women On 20s mission and we hope our trail-blazing members will cast their votes beginning March 1st and take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to spread the word. As the campaign’s slogan states — and we wholeheartedly agree, “A Woman’s Place is on The Money.