It’s just a picture. Right? Just a picture on a piece of paper. Can you name all the public figures who’ve been enshrined on our banknotes? Does their selection really have a major impact on contemporary gender relations? No, how can it? It’s just a picture.
Except it’s not. What the Bank of England failed to grasp, during Caroline Criado-Perez’s tireless, courageous, enormously frustrating dealings with them, is that the decision to remove the sole woman from our banknotes is a powerful symbol – the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is stunningly apt here. This one picture that tells young girls their aspiration and achievement will be encouraged and recognised, that women have the right to claim equal visibility with men, and that our opinion matters. The removal of that symbol is devastating.