Women Whose Image Has Been on Money Around the World

Women Whose Image Has Been on Money Around the World

One indication of how a nation feels about its exceptional women is whether or not it depicts them on its currency. In fact, a number of nations on every continent have honored their prominent female citizens, recent and ancient alike, by putting their likenesses on their money.

To compile a list of women who have appeared on currency around the world, 24/7 Tempo has gleaned information from sources such as Banknote World, Visual Capitalist, the National Museum of American History, and Mintage World, as well as several encyclopedia sites. The list is limited to paper currency and may include women who appeared on bank notes that are no longer in circulation, such as Germany’s Deutsche Mark and Italy’s lira, both supplanted by the euro. 

In a reflection of the reach of the British Commonwealth, for instance, the late Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving sovereign in British history, appears on banknotes in 19 different currencies. (It will take about two years for the U.K . and other countries to swap out the monarchs on their money.) Images of other queens appear on currency as well, among them Kurmanjan Datka of Kyrgyzstan, Dido of Carthage, and Teuta of Illyria, who thumbed her nose at ancient Rome. Other political leaders honored on bank notes included Golda Meir of Israel and Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines, the first female heads of state in their respective countries. (These are the most famous female leaders in history.)

It’s not only women in political leadership roles who appear on paper money, of course. The rich Latin American poetic tradition is represented by Juana de Ibarbourou (Uruguay), Salomé Ureña (Dominican Republic), Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Mexico). Opera singers have been honored on banknotes, too, among them Birgit Nilsson (Denmark), Emmy Destinn (Czech Republic), and Jenny Lind (Sweden).

As you might expect, suffragettes have been immortalized on currency as have social activists and reformers of various kinds – some of whom paid for their commitment to liberty with their lives. (Here are 25 women lawmakers you should know.)

Source: migulski / Flickr

Agnes of Bohemia (1211-1282)
> Known as: Bohemian princess
> Country: Czech Republic
> Denomination: 50 koruna

Agnes of Bohemia, daughter of King Ottokar, chose a life of piety and dedication to the poor over luxury and comfort. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.

Source: HasseChr / iStock via Getty Images

Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002)
> Known as: Author of “Pippi Longstocking”
> Country: Sweden
> Denomination: 20 kronor

The “Pippi Longstocking” author is one of the most-read women writers ever, with her other books including “Emil in Lönneberga,” “The Brothers Lionheart,” “The Children of Noisy Village,” and “Ronja the Robber’s Daughter.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005)
> Known as: Opera singer
> Country: Sweden
> Denomination: 500 kronor

Birgit Nilsson was a 20th-century Swedish soprano, especially famous for performing the works of Wagner and Strauss.

Source: Bence Bezeredy / iStock via Getty Images

Božena Němcová (1820-1862)
> Known as: Author
> Country: Czech Republic
> Denomination: 500 koruna

Božena Němcová was a Czech writer born in Vienna, known for compiling Czech and Slovak folk tales and customs.

Source: johan10 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Carmen Lyra (1888-1949)
> Known as: Author and educator
> Country: Costa Rica
> Denomination: 20,000 colones

Carmen Lyra was the pseudonym of María Isabel Carvajal Quesada, founder of Costa Rica’s first Montessori school, and a co-founder of that nation’s Communist Party.

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Catherine Flon (Unknown)
> Known as: Creator of the Haitian flag
> Country: Haiti
> Denomination: 10 gourdes

Catherine Flon Arcahaie is considered to be the “Betsy Ross” of Haiti and famed for sewing the first flag of the independent Republic of Haiti in 1803.

Source: Csiklet / Wikimedia Commons

Cesária Évora (1941-2011)
> Known as: Singer-songwriter
> Country: Cape Verde
> Denomination: 2,000 escudos

A native of the island nation of Cape Verde, Grammy-winner Cesária Évor was known as the country’s most famous exponent of morna, a Cape Verdean music-and-dance genre that combines elements of West African, Portuguese, and Brazilian music.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
> Known as: Pianist and composer
> Country: Germany
> Denomination: 100 Deutsche Mark

Clara Schumann, born Clara Wieck, was a pianist and composer who established a reputation as a prodigy. She married composer Robert Schumann in 1840.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Corazon C. Aquino (1933-2009)
> Known as: First female president of the Philippines
> Country: The Philippines
> Denomination: 500 pesos

After the assassination of her husband, a critic of the famously corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon C. Aquino became prominent in the opposition People Power Revolution and unseated the strongman to be elected as the first female president of the Philippines in 1986.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

> Known as: Queen and founder of Carthage
> Country: Tunisia
> Denomination: 10 dinars

Dido was the possibly mythological founder and first queen of the once-powerful city-state of Carthage, in what is now Tunisia.

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Edith Cowan (1861-1932)
> Known as: Suffragette
> Country: Australia
> Denomination: 50 dollars

Social worker and suffragette Edith Cowan was the first Australian woman elected to that country’s Parliament in 1921, one year after women were first allowed to run for that office.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845)
> Known as: Prison reformer
> Country: United Kingdom
> Denomination: 5 pounds

Elizabeth Fry, born to a middle-class Quaker family in England, championed prison reform, receiving the support of Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Emmy Destinn (1878-1930)
> Known as: Opera singer
> Country: Czech Republic
> Denomination: 2,000 koruna

Czech opera singer Emmy Destinn was known for her interpretations of “Aida,” “Tosca,” and “Salome.” She was admired by Enrico Caruso and Arturo Toscanini, and in the early 1900s was the highest-paid female singer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

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Eva Perón (1919-1952)
> Known as: First lady of Argentina
> Country: Argentina
> Denomination: 100 pesos

The charismatic Eva Perón – subject of the hit Broadway musical “Evita” – used her influence as wife of President Juan Perón to gain the vote for women in Argentina.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Fatma Aliye Topuz (1862-1936)
> Known as: First female novelist in the Muslim world
> Country: Turkey
> Denomination: 50 lire

Fatma Aliye Topuz is considered to be the first female Muslim novelist in the Muslim world in general and in Turkish literature specifically. She addressed women’s issues in many of her works and spoke out against polygamy.

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Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
> Known as: Nurse, medical reformer
> Country: United Kingdom
> Denomination: 10 pounds

The famed “Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale improved sanitary conditions in British military hospitals during the Crimean War. She also was among the first people to apply data to the medical profession.

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Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
> Known as: Artist, Communist Party militant
> Country: Mexico
> Denomination: 500 pesos

Iconoclastic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, married twice to famed muralist Diego Rivera, was known for her self-portraits, her focus on Mexican and indigenous culture, and, by feminists, for her depictions of the female experience.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)
> Known as: Nobel Prize-winning author
> Country: Chile
> Denomination: 5,000 pesos

Chilean author and educator Gabriela Mistral became the first Latin American author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. She’s renowned for advocating for the rights of women, children, and the poor.

Source: Berlin-George / Wikimedia Commons

Golda Meir (1898-1978)
> Known as: Prime minister
> Country: Israel
> Denomination: 10 shekels

Golda Meir, who was born in Kyiv but grew up and worked as a schoolteacher in Milwaukee, became as Israel’s first – and thus far only – female prime minister in 1969, after serving in the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, for 25 years.

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Greta Garbo (1905-1990)
> Known as: Actress
> Country: Sweden
> Denomination: 100 kronor

Aloof and enigmatic Swedish movie actress Greta Garbo was nominated for four Academy Awards and was a major box-office star before she chose to retire from films after a contract dispute in 1941.

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Higuchi Ichiyō (1872-1896)
> Known as: Author and poet
> Country: Japan
> Denomination: 5,000 yen

Japanese writer and poet Higuchi Ichiyō is one of the influential voices of late 19th-century Japan. She wrote about how traditional society dealt with the changes brought on by industrialization.

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Jane Austen (1775-1817)
> Known as: Author
> Country: United Kingdom
> Denomination: 10 pounds

Novelist Jane Austen is known for her works such as “Sense & Sensibility” and “Pride & Prejudice,” detailing the lives of the English aristocracy.

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Jenny Lind (1820-1887)
> Known as: Opera singer
> Country: Sweden
> Denomination: 50 kronor

Nicknamed the “Swedish Nightingale,” Lind was an operatic and oratorio soprano known for her wide vocal range. P.T. Barnum hired her to perform to drum up interest in his circus in 1850.

Source: Aerous / Wikimedia Commons

Josefa Llanes Escoda (1898-1945)
> Known as: Founder, Philippines Girl Scouts
> Country: Philippines
> Denomination: 1,000 pesos

Josefa Madamba Llanes Escoda was a Filipina civic leader, social worker, suffragette, and World War II heroine who ultimately paid with her life for her support of the resistance against the Japanese.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979)
> Known as: Poet
> Country: Uruguay
> Denomination: 1,000 pesos

Juana Fernández Morales de Ibarbourou was an Uruguayan poet who wrote about love and nature. She was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Kate Sheppard (1847-1934)
> Known as: Suffragette
> Country: New Zealand
> Denomination: 10 dollars

Born in Liverpool, England, Kate Sheppard became the most prominent suffragist in New Zealand. In 1893, because of Sheppard’s leadership, New Zealand was the first country to grant the right to vote for women after several suffrage bills had failed to pass Parliament.

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Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962)
> Known as: Opera singer
> Country: Norway
> Denomination: 100 kroner

Kirsten Flagstad was a Norwegian opera singer and Wagnerian soprano. Over her 46-year career, she was considered to be one of the greatest sopranos of her era, with some opera critics hailing her as “the voice of the century.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Kurmanjan Datka (1811-1907)
> Known as: Stateswoman
> Country: Kyrgyzstan
> Denomination: 50 som

Known as the “Queen of the Mountains,” Kurmanjan Datka was a 19th-century leader known for uniting the Krygyz tribes and negotiating peace with the Russian Empire that ended conflict and saved lives.

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Ladi Kwali (1925-1984)
> Known as: Ceramicist
> Country: Nigeria
> Denomination: 20 naira

Nigerian ceramicist Ladi Kwali created a pottery creating style that fused traditional African and Western studio techniques, bringing her her fame. She exhibited in England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States.

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Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913)
> Known as: Poet and author
> Country: Ukraine
> Denomination: 200 hryvni

The daughter of intellectuals, Lesya Ukrainka was a poet, short-story writer, essayist, and critic and a prominent figure in Ukrainian literature.

Source: Bgabel / Wikimedia Commons

Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi (1799-1866)
> Known as: Heroine of War of Independence
> Country: Venezuela
> Denomination: 20 bolívares

Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi was the first Venezuelan woman to appear on her nation’s currency. She supported her husband, military leader Juan Bautista Arismendi, during Venezuela’s war for independence.

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Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
> Known as: Educator
> Country: Italy
> Denomination: 1,000 lire

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician – one of that nation’s first female doctors – who became best-known as an educator and innovator, known for her educational method that built on children’s natural desire to learn. There are now thousands of Montessori schools worldwide.

Source: tonynetone / Flickr

Marie Curie (1867-1934)
> Known as: Nobel Prize-winning chemist
> Country: Poland
> Denomination: 20 zlote

Marie Curie is the only woman to ever win two Nobel Prizes. The Polish-born physicist and chemist who worked in France won for her work in both physics and chemistry.

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Martha Washington (1731-1802)
> Known as: Wife of George Washington
> Country: United States
> Denomination: 1 dollar

Martha Washington, wife of the nation’s first president, was the first woman whose image appeared on U.S. currency with the $1 silver certificate, first printed in 1886.

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Mary Gilmore (1865-1962)
> Known as: Poet and journalist
> Country: Australia
> Denomination: 10 dollars

Mary Gilmore, a poet and journalist from Australia, journeyed to Paraguay with other Australians in 1886 to set up a utopian socialist colony. That experiment failed, but back in Australia, she fought for the rights of the disadvantaged, including Aboriginal people and child workers.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Mary Slessor (1848-1915)
> Known as: Missionary and activist
> Country: Scotland
> Denomination: 50 pounds

Inspired by explorer David Livingstone, Scottish missionary Mary Slessor went to Calabar, Nigeria, a region no European had visited. She overcame bouts of illness and learned the native language, eventually being names the first female magistrate in the British Empire when southern Nigeria became a British Protectorate.

Source: Laurent Seignobos / Wikimedia Commons

The Mirabal sisters (1924,1925,1926-1960)
> Known as: Opponents of the dictatorship
> Country: Dominican Republic
> Denomination: 200 pesos

The three Mirabal sisters Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa were born into wealth in the Dominican Republic but developed a social conscience that put them at odds with the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. The sisters were assassinated in 1960 and have since been lionized as martyrs and feminist icons.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Nadežda Petrović (1873-1915)
> Known as: Painter
> Country: Serbia
> Denomination: 200 dinars

Nadežda Petrović was an influential Serbian expressionist and abstract painter who served in three wars and advocated for unity among the peoples in the emerging Yugoslav nation.

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Nanny of the Maroons (c. 1686-c. 1733)
> Known as: National heroine of Jamaica
> Country: Jamaica
> Denomination: 500 dollars

Nanny is a national heroine of Jamaica for leading the Windward Maroons, former slaves living in the Jamaican interior, against the British during the colonial era.

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Nellie Melba (1861-1931)
> Known as: Opera singer
> Country: Australia
> Denomination: 100 dollars

Nellie Melba was a celebrated Australian opera singer who toured Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The French chef Auguste Escoffier named melba toast and the dessert called peach melba in her honor.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Pocahontas (c. 1596-1617)
> Known as: Native American said to have saved John Smith’s life
> Country: United States
> Denomination: 20 dollars

Pocahontas, born Amonute, was the daughter of the Powhatan chief whose people lived in what is now the area around Jamestown, Virginia, and in 1907 became the first Native American honored on a U.S. postage stamp. Legend has it that she saved the life of English settler John Smith, though this has been widely disputed.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Policarpa Salavarrieta (1795-1817)
> Known as: Seamstress and spy
> Country: Colombia
> Denomination: 10,000 pesos

Policarpa Salavarrieta, a seamstress nicknamed La Pola, was famous for spying for the Colombian revolutionaries against the Spanish during the Spanish Reconquista of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. She was captured by the Spanish and executed for high treason.

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Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)
> Known as: Head of state of the U.K. and queen of the Commonwealth nations
> Countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, St. Helena, United Kingdom
> Denomination: Various

Queen Elizabeth II reigned over Great Britain between 1952 and 2022 and is the longest-serving sovereign in British history. Her image has appeared on bank notes in 19 different nations or regions that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. She first appeared on currency in 1935 at age 8 on the Canadian dollar.

Source: RobsonPL / iStock via Getty Images

Queen Tamar (?-1213)
> Known as: Queen regnant of Georgia
> Country: Georgia
> Denomination: 50 lari

Tamar was the queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213. She was Georgia’s first female queen and oversaw the nation’s largest territorial expansion.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Queen Teuta (Unknown)
> Known as: Queen of Illyria
> Country: Albania
> Denomination: 100 lekë

Queen Teuta led the Illyrian tribe located in what is today Albania. They were a threat to Roman trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean. Only repeated incursions by Roman legions in Illyria stopped the queen’s aggression.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir (1646-1715)
> Known as: Seamstress
> Country: Iceland
> Denomination: 5,000 krónur

Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir was the well-educated daughter of a Lutheran priest and poet. She was a skilled seamstress who taught women embroidery skills.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Rose Lomathinda Chibambo (19282016)
> Known as: Politician and leader of the Nyasaland African Congress
> Country: Malawi
> Denomination: 200 kwacha

Rose Lomathinda Chibambo was an influential politician in the British Protectorate of Nyasaland in the years before it gained its independence as the nation of Malawi in 1964. Chibambo also was an important organizer of Malawian women in their quest for independence.

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Rose of Lima (1586-1617)
> Known as: First Catholic saint of the Americas
> Country: Peru
> Denomination: 200 soles

Rose of Lima, born Isabel de Flores, is the patron saint of Peru and the Philippines, and also of gardening and embroidery. She helped the destitute and elderly and was canonized in 1671, becoming the first saint born in the Americas.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Salomé Ureña (1850-1897)
> Known as: Poet and pedagogist
> Country: Dominican Republic
> Denomination: 500 pesos

Salomé Ureña is prominent in the rich Latin American tradition of female poets such as Juana de Ibarbourou and the Chilean Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral. She became one of the greatest writers ever produced by the Dominican Republic.

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Shin Saimdang (1504-1551)
> Known as: Artist and poet
> Country: South Korea
> Denomination: 50,000 wones

Shin Saimdang was known as an influential Korean painter and calligraphist, She also was the mother of seven children who cared for her elderly parents.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Sigrid Undset (1882-1949)
> Known as: Nobel Prize-winning author
> Country: Norway
> Denomination: 500 kroner

Danish-born Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for her vivid depictions of life in the Scandinavian regions during the Middle Ages. Much of her work was inspired by her father, who was an archeologist.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943)
> Known as: Artist
> Country: Switzerland
> Denomination: 50 francs

As a painter and sculptor, Sophie Taeuber-Arp spent her life challenging the boundaries of art as a designer of textiles, beadwork, costumes, furniture, and interiors in pre-World War II Europe.

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Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695)
> Known as: Nun, scholar, poet
> Country: Mexico
> Denomination: 200 pesos

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz has been called the first great Latin American poet and one of the most important Hispanic literary figures. She created beloved sonnets in the Spanish language, and also excelled as a dramatist. De la Cruz was persecuted for being an intellectual, a woman, and a nun.

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Viola Desmond (1914-1965)
> Known as: Civil rights leader
> Country: Canada
> Denomination: 10 dollars

Nine years before Rosa Parks defied whites-only accommodations in Alabama in 1955, Viola Desmond, who was Black, challenged racial bias in Canada when she refused to leave the segregated whites-only section in a theater in Nova Scotia. She was arrested and jailed, and wasn’t pardoned until 2010, 45 years after her death.

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Zenobia (Unknown)
> Known as: Queen of the Palmyrene Empire
> Country: Syria
> Denomination: 500 pounds

Zenobia was the queen of the Palmyrene Empire, which spanned parts of Syria, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and Asia Minor. She challenged Roman authority during the third century A.D. until the Romans defeated her. She claimed ancestry from Dido of Carthage and Cleopatra of Egypt.

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