• U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gloria Steinem in the East Room at the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty)

    You’ve Come a Long Way, Kid

    Gloria Steinem: Ms. Freedom

    President Obama awarded Gloria Steinem the country’s highest civilian honor, in what the activist icon called ‘a medal for the entire women’s movement.’

    Feminist activist and Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem was the first woman to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, begrudgingly accepting a necktie—the NPC’s traditional souvenir at the time—in 1972. Tongue firmly in cheek, she told the audience she’d be happy to complete the look with a men’s jacket to “confirm your worst suspicions.”

    Steinem, who turns 80 in March, returned to the NPC podium earlier this week to discuss an altogether more satisfying piece of neckwear: the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor the U.S. can bestow on a citizen who isn’t in the military—which Obama draped around her neck during Wednesday’s ceremony at the White House. He praised her for promoting “lasting political and social change in America and abroad and, among other things, for “inspiring us all to take up the cause of reaching for a more just tomorrow.”

  • Frederick M. Brown/Getty


    Obama to Award Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey

    With Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Sixteen people, including Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem, are set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian. Steinem, who is still very active with many women’s groups, was a leader in the women’s-liberation movement of the late 1960s and ’70s and cofounded Ms. magazine. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest-rated talk show for 25 years, and Winfrey has worked to help advance young women through numerous organizations. Astronaut Sally Ride will also be honored posthumously. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Medal of Freedom 50 years ago, more than 500 people have been honored.