How About Sojourner Truth on the $5 Bill?

Can you think of a U.S. holiday named after a woman?

No? That’s because there are none. Women are also conspicuously near-absent on U.S. currency, statues, stamps and street names.

The non-profit organization Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE), launched this month, is determined to solve this problem by achieving gender parity in the country’s symbols and icons.

EVE will launch projects in all 50 states to increase the number of monuments, memorials and statues depicting women, as well as streets and buildings named after women. The group’s mission is to “[highlight] women’s history and achievements, eliminat[e] gender bias in our nation’s symbolism and cultural representations, and provid[e] empowering role models for girls and women.”

A few stats:

  • The U.S. Postal Service honored only 43 women out of 206 people on commemorative stamps (21 percent) from 2000 to 2009.
  • Of 100 statues featured in the U.S. Capitol’s statuary hall, only nine depict women.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has only included 10 balloons of female characters in its 85 years.
  • No woman is featured on any U.S. paper currency.

EVE’s first goal is to persuade the state of Ohio to replace the statue of  pro-slavery Ohio governor William Allen in the U.S. Capitol’s statuary hall with a statue of a woman. Members showed up on Monday at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus accompanied by three actors dressed as Ohio women Harriet Beecher Stowe, Judith Resnik and Harriet Taylor Upton (below).

Ohioans will have until June 12 to vote on which historical figure (out of 10) will reside in the statuary hall. If you live in Ohio, vote here: http://www.legacyforohio.org.

Welcome to the feminist community, EVE! Finally, someone is proactively updating the icons and visual images we see everyday so that, at last, women and girls are proportionately represented.

Top: Statue of Sojourner Truth in Battle Creek, Mo. Photo courtesy of battlecreekcvb / Creative Commons.

Bottom: Actors at the Ohio Historical Center: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Judith Resnik and Harriet Taylor Upton. Photo courtesy of EVE.

About

Alexandra was a 2010 editorial intern at Ms. who helped launch the Ms. Blog. She is from Climax, Minnesota and has written for the Grand Forks Herald, the University Chronicle, the St. Cloud Times and Ms. She is now copy-editing for Live Nation/Ticketmaster, and is looking for employment in nonprofits, journalism/PR and/or women's rights. Check out her resume at www.wix.com/msatweet/portfolio!