POLITICS

It May Be More Than A Decade Before We See A Woman On The Front Of A U.S. Bill

And women are sick of waiting.

This week's anticipated victory for groups pushing the U.S. Treasury to put a woman's picture on the $20 bill was soured by news that the wait might stretch to 2030. 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is expected to announce that, instead of booting the suddenly beloved Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill and replacing him with the portrait of a yet-to-be-named woman -- a plan officials disclosed last year -- the department will instead replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with a woman. 

It's a move that campaigns like Women on 20s have been pushing for, arguing that the larger bill has a higher circulation than the $10 bill, and that it now honors Jackson, a genocidal slaveowner. 

But switching the face on the $20 bill would come with an extended timeline, CNN reported on Sunday, citing a senior government source.

"The soonest that a new $20 note will be issued is 2030," the source said, explaining that approving the design and incorporating anti-counterfeiting features is a lengthy process. The redesign of the $10 and $5 notes, which Lew is expected to announce, will feature murals of women on the backside of the bills. The redesign of those smaller bills will get the Treasury's priority over the $20 note, the source added. 

However, the Treasury does not have a set timeline for redesigning currency. On its website, the department says redesigns are primarily done "as necessary to address current and potential security threats to currency notes."

Regardless of the uncertainty, Women On 20s says 15-plus years is too long to wait. The group is pressuring Lew to redesign the $20 and $10 bills now.

"We're going all-out on social media and through messaging on our website to press Secretary Lew to fast track the $20 bill, produce it simultaneously with the $10 so it can be issued on the heels of the $10 around the time of the centennial of women's suffrage in 2020," Susan Ades Stone, the group's executive director, told The Huffington Post. "Time to take women off the back burner and initiate meaningful change."

The plan to put a mural of women on the back of the $10 and $5 bills while the $20 is being redesigned is a slap in the face to women, the group said.

"We hear you loud and clear, Secretary Lew: the back of the bill is not good enough for our male heroes, but it’s fine for women," the group said in a press release Sunday. 

"What is particularly alarming is: if we can’t get close to equal billing on something as simple as our currency, what hope is there for the bigger challenges ahead of equal pay or overall gender equality," the group added.

A Treasury spokesperson, asked to comment on the redesign plans, told HuffPost: "As Secretary Lew said last week, we are going to make an exciting set of announcements soon that involve the $5, $10 and $20 bills."

It's possible that between now and 2030, Lew’s successor could reverse any female-focused currency plans

 But redesigning both the $20 and the $10 bills now is out of the question, CNN said it was told by the government source.

"This level of technology is why our counterfeiting remains at less than .01% of currency in circulation," the source said. "We should not expedite the issuance of any currency for political purposes."

This story has been updated to clarify that the Treasury doesn't release a set timeline for redesigning bills. 

HuffPost

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