A coin toss in favour of women all over the world4 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
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Before stepping right into the article, find a coin. Now, spend some time observing it. What do you see? What is the significance of the figures in it? Try to find out and share with Owliver in the comments, below.
Till now, most of the American coinage has been dominated by images of men with the exception of the metaphorical Lady Liberty. But in a history defining move, the writer and poet Maya Angelou and the astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, will be the first women to appear on a series of quarters issued by the U.S. Mint.
One quarter USD is equal to 18.57 INR.
The heads side of the new coin will represent a new design of one of America’s founding fathers, George Washington, while the reverse side (or the tails side) will honour Angelou and Ride. Let’s get to know them, shall we?
Maya Angelou, born as Marguerite Annie Johnson, was a poet, novelist, playwright, and civil-rights activist. Her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was one of the first autobiographies by a woman of African origin to reach wide readership. In fact, all the seven designs for Angelou’s coin created by the Mint refer to this autobiography. She recited a poem at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony in 1993. (Read: Another first to remember: Inauguration’s youngest poet). She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Angelou has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and many books of poetry. She has even written for the stage and for television.
Do you remember her poem Still I Rise? Head over to Owliver’s archives to catch a glimpse of the beauty that her words are!
Sally Ride was the first American woman to have ever gone to space. She flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984. She was the third woman in space overall (The former Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya were the first and second women to have been in space in 1963 and 1982 respectively).
Throughout her life, she remained a champion of science education. Ride has also written many science books for children like Mission Planet Earth and Exploring our Solar System. Ride has five designs celebrating her role as an astronaut and an educator.
She set up Sally Ride Science to promote equity and inclusion in science education beyond gender, encouraging more girls to opt for science and engineering.
The legislation for the new quarters was brought to the U.S House of Representatives by the Californian Democrat, Barbara Lee as an attempt to recognise women, especially women of colour, in nation building.
In 2017, the U.S. Mint celebrated its 225th anniversary. To commemorate the moment, it unveiled a $100 USD gold coin that showed Lady Liberty as a woman of African origin.
This was the first coin in a series of coins that would show Lady Liberty as a woman with different ethnicities including Asian and Hispanic.
The coins will be in circulation under the American Women Quarters Program. This program will feature twenty more women from many fields including humanities, science, activism, suffrage, government and more!
Did you know that U.K is planning on issuing coins to honour Mahatma Gandhi?!
The U.S. Mint has also invited suggestions from the public with regards to who they will want to see on the coins. No living person qualifies for an inclusion in the coins. Each design will celebrate the specific contribution made by these trailblazing women who are no longer with us. The present Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, who is the first woman to hold the position, will select the featured women in consultation with Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. The Mint will confirm the final design of the coins.
The coins are expected to enter circulation in January 2022.
These coins will serve as a reminder of the massive contribution that they have all made to the world, and embody their memory.
India has a long history of strong women who have contributed immensely to the world around them. If India had to do something like this, whom would you like to see included, and why?
Let Owliver know in the comments below!
With excerpts from The New York Times, CNN, The Hindu, Smithsonian Magazine, and SallyRideScience