Week Woman

A Pox on the Patriarchy

We are running out of time; help spread the word and see justice done!

WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME! We have raised an amazing amount of money to see justice done, but our deadline of the 24th of June is fast approaching! Please copy and paste this letter and send it to all your friends and colleagues; if you are at university as a student or academic, please ask your Women’s Officer to send it round. We need to spread the word as far, wide and fast as possible if we are going to stop the Bank of England evading justice! 

Feel free to adapt it if you think it can be shorter – it is written with people who haven’t heard of the campaign before in mind.

Suggested Email Subject: Please read this in full: it’s important to me

OR: Don’t let the Bank of England buy their way out of justice! Help spread the word!

Dear [xxxxx]

I am getting in touch to ask for your help. Nearly two months ago, the Bank of England announced a new figure for our paper currency. That person was Churchill. What they did not mention in the long speeches they made at the time about the ‘gilded list’ that he was joining and the ‘uniquely privileged position’ they were in to be able to ‘promote our shared cultural heritage’, was that Churchill would be replacing the only female historical figure on our banknotes. This means that our banknotes will exclusively feature white men.

This matters. It matters because we still live in a culture where women’s achievements are routinely undermined and erased – you only need to look at the paltry representation of women in our new history curriculum to see this in action. It matters because a growing and compelling field of research on role models shows how much impact they have on young women – including a negative impact where they are absent. And it matters because, as the Bank of England themselves say, the choice of figures on our banknotes promotes a shared cultural heritage – and what does it say about us as a country if we see that heritage as exclusively white and male?

This is why it matters – and this is what I am doing about it. To date, more than 28000 people have signed a petition (change.org/banknotes), asking the Bank of England to reverse their decision to remove the only woman on our banknotes and replace her with yet another man. In response, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King informed us that ‘with respect’, the Queen is on the notes, thereby completely evading the conversation we are having about merit rather than inherited privilege, and also demonstrating that, far from respecting the 28000 people who had signed the petition, he had not even read it, since the issue of the Queen is addressed there.

In a more concerning move, he also said that he was ‘sure’ that all people ‘would’ have been treated equally, despite the fact that at this point, the Bank of England had already been sent a legal letter arguing that they were in breach of the 2010 Equality Act, which is not satisfied with conditionals such as ‘sure’ and ‘would'; on the contrary, it requires Mervyn King himself to know that he has paid due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. In line with King’s own comment, the Bank’s formal response also demonstrated a lack of understanding of their duty under the Equality Act. They claimed that the duty is not engaged, but also claimed that they had complied with it; considering the positive action required under the Act it is arguable that it is possible to fulfil the duties of the Act while at the same time thinking they are not engaged. They also refused to provide any documentation regarding the decision-making process,  calling it a ‘fishing expedition’ – this despite the fact that the Equality Act explicitly refers to the decision-making process, meaning that evidence of how a decision was taken is paramount to demonstrating compliance. Finally, they completely changed their tone about the the significance of the people on banknotes – no longer a ‘gilded list’, it was an irrelevance which ‘prominent dead person’ replaced another.

I do not want to take the Bank of England to court. I simply want them to recognise their duties under the Equality Act – indeed a very easy way out is open to them, since Darwin is in fact an older note than Fry and therefore is due a change anyway. However, the Bank is not taking this option. Instead they are throwing all the public funds they have at their disposal into defending the decision not to have a single woman on our banknotes; their solicitors are as expensive as they come. This is without doubt a David and Goliath situation, but I do not believe that the Bank should be able to buy their way out of justice. There is no doubt that the Bank is big, powerful and rich. But what we lack in funds, we make up for in strength of numbers. We only need 300 people to donate £10 to reach our target (gofundme.com/banknotes) – but time is running out. We only have until the 24th of June to make our target amount. Please help us get there: forward this email on to all your friends; tweet about the petition; share it on facebook; and please donate whatever you can (gofundme.com/banknotes) to help us see justice done.

I believe we can get there, but it requires us all to pull together and stand firm against inequality and injustice. This may be a small thing, but small things add up to a toxic culture in which women are routinely discriminated against. Let’s not let the small things slide.

Thank you so much for your support.

Shorter version of the letter – you know your audience!

Dear [xxxxx]

I am getting in touch to ask for your help. Nearly two months ago, the Bank of England announced a new figure for our paper currency. That person was Churchill. What they did not mention in the long speeches they made at the time about the ‘gilded list’ that he was joining and the ‘uniquely privileged position’ they were in to be able to ‘promote our shared cultural heritage’, was that Churchill would be replacing the only female historical figure on our banknotes. This means that our banknotes will exclusively feature white men.

This matters. It matters because we still live in a culture where women’s achievements are routinely undermined and erased – you only need to look at the paltry representation of women in our new history curriculum to see this in action. It matters because a growing and compelling field of research on role models shows how much impact they have on young women – including a negative impact where they are absent. And it matters because, as the Bank of England themselves say, the choice of figures on our banknotes promotes a shared cultural heritage – and what does it say about us as a country if we see that heritage as exclusively white and male?

This is why it matters – and this is what I am doing about it. To date, more than 28000 people have signed a petition (change.org/banknotes), asking the Bank of England to reverse their decision to remove the only woman on our banknotes and replace her with yet another man. We have also issued a legal challenge under the 2010 Equality Act, asking the Bank to demonstrate how they have complied with their duty to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. They have refused to do this, calling our request for documentation a ‘fishing expedition’, despite the fact that the Equality Act required positive steps to be taken for compliance.

I do not want to take the Bank of England to court. I simply want them to recognise their duties under the Equality Act – indeed a very easy way out is open to them, since Darwin is in fact an older note than Fry and therefore is due a change anyway. However, the Bank is not taking this option. Instead they are throwing all the public funds they have at their disposal into defending the decision not to have a single woman on our banknotes; their solicitors are as expensive as they come. This is without doubt a David and Goliath situation, but I do not believe that the Bank should be able to buy their way out of justice. There is no doubt that the Bank is big, powerful and rich. But what we lack in funds, we make up for in strength of numbers. We only need 300 people to donate £10 to reach our target (gofundme.com/banknotes) – but time is running out. We only have until the 24th of June to make our target amount. Please help us get there: forward this email on to all your friends; tweet about the petition; share it on facebook; and please donate whatever you can (gofundme.com/banknotes) to help us see justice done.

I believe we can get there, but it requires us all to pull together and stand firm against inequality and injustice. This may be a small thing, but small things add up to a toxic culture in which women are routinely discriminated against. Let’s not let the small things slide.

Thank you so much for your support.

2 comments on “We are running out of time; help spread the word and see justice done!

  1. Pingback: Help keep a woman on UK banknotes | Women's Views on News

  2. Pingback: Where did all the Women go? | alison jane

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30,287 other followers

%d bloggers like this: