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Battle to keep women on banknotes

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The Bank of England is facing mounting criticism over its decision to remove prison reformer Elizabeth Fry from banknotes.

Replacing Fry with Winston Churchill in 2016 will leave British currency with no female representation other than the Queen, prompting The Women's Room to start an online petition asking Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, to keep women on British currency.

With almost 30,000 names added to the petition in the two months since the Bank's announcement, a group of 46 female MPs has now written to the Prime Minister and the Bank of England asking them not to take women off our banknotes, The Telegraph revealed.

“We ask that you seek to review the decision about Elizabeth Fry and ensure that the Bank plays its role in celebrating the contribution of women to our country," the letter reads. "We are sharing our letter with the Prime Minister to ask him to join us in raising these concerns and recognising the contribution of women across all spheres of public life."

Born into it: The Queen appears on every note by default, not because of her achievements

A Bank of England spokesman said: “The Bank did consider the representation of women when selecting the next figure to feature on a banknote. The selection decision was made taking into account objectively selected criteria. Four candidates, three men a woman, were considered when Sir Winston Churchill was chosen as the historical character to appear on the next new banknote, and the female candidate was chosen as the contingency candidate.”

However, The Women's Room is not impressed, arguing in its petition: "An all-male line-up on our banknotes sends out the damaging message that no woman has done anything important enough to appear. This is patently untrue."

It says that by removing the only female from the current selection of admirable figures chosen to feature on the reverse of the notes, the Bank is failing young women, who it says are growing up seeing "a parliament that is 57th equal in the world when it comes to female representation; a media where only one in five experts is a woman; and a business world where female directors represent only 16.7% of the total."

There is no set time period between updates on banknotes, the Bank of England confirmed to Stylist, so it's not known how long the currency will be dominated by men if the plan to replace Fry goes ahead in 2016.

What do you think to a male-dominated currency? Should Fry be replaced by another woman and if so, who? Have your say below or on Twitter.

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