Women not worth the money?
Hod Hasharon second graders decide to launch campaign to get more prominent Israeli women on State's banknotes after noticing only three females figures ever appeared on local money. Kids send letter to Bank of Israel, Education Ministry, Women's Network organization, get support of women's lobby to continue struggle
Every day we use banknotes, but very few of us notice what figures can be found on them. While most of us aren't paying attention, second graders from the Hod Hasharon Democratic School spotted something others didn't notice – there are no women on Israeli banknotes.
A few weeks ago, second grader Ariel Weissman, who collects banknotes and coins as a hobby, decided to compose a report on the various figures appearing on them. Ariel and his teacher, Eran Mor, quickly realized that all the figures appearing on Israeli bills that Ariel was acquainted with were only of men.
The student told his classmates about this, and together the class decided to research deeper, and searched the internet for all the banknotes that were circulated in Israel since the establishment of the State.
The students' investigation revealed that over the years there have been 17 different male figures on various banknotes, and only three female figures, namely: Golda Meir, Henrietta Szold, and a female Nahal (Fighting Pioneer Youth) soldier. These banknotes are no longer in circulation.
'Absence of women part of broader problem'The students' discovery prompted them, with the help of their teacher, to start a struggle to get more women on banknotes. The children prepared a petition and managed to collect 300 signatures, including students and parents. They also contacted the women's lobby in Israel and invited them to join in the fight.
Last week, the students' representative Ella Zelikovsky sent a letter on behalf of her classmates to Bank of Israel CEO Yehezkel Calo, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, and Women's Network Chairwoman Rina Bar-Tal.
"We feel it is unfair and wrong that only men can be found on banknotes, because there were many women in Israel's history that were no less important than those men, and they certainly could appear on banknotes," part of the letter read.
In her letter, Zelikovsky suggested a number of candidates, including Rachel the poet, composer and songwriter Naomi Shemer, Hungarian parachuter Hannah Szenes, the "First Lady of Hebrew Theater" Hanna Rovina, and the "heroine of Nili" Sarah Aaronsohn.
"We think the absence of women from banknotes represents a broader problem in society as a whole. Think about how a girl who uses these bills feels when she never sees a woman on them," the letter said.
Nurit Zur, director of the Women's Network, responded to the students with a letter saying her organization would join them in their struggle.
The Bank of Israel in response said a special committee, headed by a judge, decides who is commemorated on the banknotes. The children's letter, the bank said, would be passed on to the committee, and the matter would be considered.