For the First Time in Arab History, a Banknote Features a Woman

09 Apr 2020  Thu

On 27th March 2020, the Banque Centrale de Tunisie (Bank of Tunisia) released new banknotes, which, for the first time in the modern history of the Arab world, feature a woman. The new 10-dinar banknote features a portrait of Dr. Tawhida ben Cheikh (1909–2010), who became the country’s first accredited female physician in Tunisia, as well as the first-ever female physician in North Africa.

Born in Tunis, Tunisia, at the time when Tunisia was a French colony, ben Cheikh came from an elite Tunisian family that was socially conservative. Ben Cheikh enrolled in the School of Medicine in Paris to pursue her education and earned a degree in medicine in 1936, thus, becoming her country’s first accredited female physician. For her efforts with the less-privileged, she was known as “the doctor of the poor” by her countrymen.

The banknote of Tunisia is printed on a cotton-based paper and is predominantly blue in color, measuring 148 x 73 mm. The face side of the note is dated as 20-03-2020 and includes a portrait of Dr. Tawhida ben Cheikh, which is based on an actual contemporary photograph. The backside includes a collection of pottery of Berber origin and an ornate bracelet. A background of stylized floral motifs and arabesque elements are also featured in the background.

Image Courtesy: Banque Centrale de Tunisie

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