Romania to feature female WWI officer on banknote

BUCHAREST, November 26 (Reuters) – Romania’s central bank on Friday unveiled a new banknote celebrating World War I lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu, the first woman named to be depicted on Romanian money.

The new 20 lei ($ 4.56) note, which features an image of Teodoroiu – the first female army officer – will be in circulation from December.

“In paying tribute to him, we also celebrate the Romanian army,” central bank governor Mugur Isarescu told reporters.

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“This responds to a widely supported legitimate public interest to promote and consolidate gender equality and the major role that female figures have played in Romanian history and society.”

Since its appearance in 1867, the Romanian leu has presented several anonymous peasant women but never a true historical figure.

Born in 1894, Teodoroiu first served as a nurse in World War I and became a fighter after her four brothers died in combat. She rose through the ranks and won praise for her bravery. She died at the front in 1917 at the age of 23.

A photo of WWI Lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu is on display at an exhibition in Bucharest, Romania on November 26, 2021. Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea via REUTERS

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Some critics have questioned Teodoroiu’s choice over other more important and influential women.

The central bank, which has an all-male board of directors, will host an exhibit dedicated to Teodoroiu from December 6, featuring personal items including his bullet-chipped helmet and his blood-stained ammunition bag.

The idea of ​​representing women on the coin originated in 2018, when fashion journalist Janina Nectara launched a campaign, suggesting a list of 100 female personalities, including Teodoroiu, scientists, doctors, artists and professors among which ones to choose.

“Throughout history … hundreds of notable women have helped Romania move forward,” Nectara told Reuters, “but since the birth of the Romanian leu none of their names have been honored on one of the strongest national symbols, the “banknotes”.

“We need a permanent example that women have also made history. It is important to give equal merit.”

($ 1 = 4.3814 lei)

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Reporting by Luiza Ilie Editing by Gareth Jones

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