Civil Rights Activist Viola Desmond Will Be the First Woman on the Canadian $10 Bill

Viola Desmond (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Viola Desmond (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Canada has always been on the progressive side of things, and now it’s extended to their money. The country has elected to put a black woman on one of their bills.

Desmond will be featured on the Canadian $10 bill:

According to the Bank of Canada, there are 132 million $10 bills in circulation right now. The number of new banknotes printed annually fluctuates from year to year.

Said woman Viola Desmond was a civil rights activist. In Dec. 1946, she bought a floor seat in the main house of a movie theater. The main house was reserved for whites, whereas Black movie-goers were supposed to sit upstairs in the balcony. Desmond was arrested and jailed, on account of not paying the tax difference between the two seats. The tax difference was…one cent. One. Cent.

In 1947, Desmond tried to appeal the charge and lost. She dies in 1965 at age 50, and was granted a public pardon and apology in 2010.

It’s important to note that Desmond’s act came nine years before Rosa Parks gave up her bus seat in the United States, setting off the U.S.’s civil rights movement.

As Ryerson’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Staffer Darrell Bowden puts it:

“Viola was not the Rosa Parks of Canada. Rosa Parks was the Viola Desmond of America.”

Until this point, the only woman on Canadian money has been Queen Elizabeth of England. But Desmond is the first Canadian woman who will be on Canadian money. She’s also the first one who won’t be part of a group: Canada’s Famous Five suffragettes graved the $50 bill from 2004 until 2011.

Desmond beat out 26K+ submissions from the public. The bill with her face will go into circulation in 2018.

Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet is 50% Women

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet (CNBC)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet (CNBC)

The new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working swiftly to make his own mark on his country: Last week, he debuted his new cabinet, which looks very different from the previous one (or most governing bodies, for that matter).

Trudeau’s cabinet is 50% women. That’s right, exactly half. Fifteen men, and fifteen women, along with Trudeau himself. Trudeau’s reasoning for his cabinet’s equality? “Because it’s 2015.” (Finally!) He also wanted a cabinet that “looked like Canada.”

But his actions aren’t just benefitting women; they’ll benefit the whole country:

The countries with the most female lawmakers have made major strides on issues such as education, labor-force participation and paid leave. [Sweden, Rwanda, and Finland] ha[ve] either a parliament or a ministry that is at least 50% female, while women make up only 19% of the U.S. Congress and only four of Obama’s 15 Cabinet members.

With this action, Trudeau sends a clear message: He respects and values women as peers and intellectual equals. And he intends to lead the twin charges of equality and diversity during his term. Incidentally, these terms have no limit. But I hope Trudeau is in power and makes needed changes for a long time to come.

Rome Considers Zone of Tolerance for Prostitutes

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

The Roman neighborhood of EUR is considering enacting various “zones of tolerance” around the city within which prostitution would be legal. Certain places would off-limits, such as public parks, churches and schools. This makes sense: A country-wide law dictates that cities can issue boundaries on where prostitution can and cannot occur. This is a bit of a legal loophole in Italy, where aiding prostitution is illegal (but restricting it to certain areas is fine), but paying for sex is totally cool.

Naturally, the prostitutes themselves are not happy with this, as it would cut into their business. The Catholic Church isn’t too pleased either, for obvious reasons.

There are precedents for these zones: In 2012, Montreal was mulling a similar thing, but wanted to restrict it to one street, away from the busy main thoroughfare. In 2006, the English town of Ipswich considered a tolerance zone after a spate of prostitute murders shook the community.

EUR hasn’t come (heh) to a conclusion yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what precedent this sets for the city, Italy and the rest of the world.