President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that writer and feminist activist Gloria Steinem, cofounder of Ms. magazine, will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, later this year. She joins nearly 600 distinguished people who have won the award since it was established in 1963. According to the White House, Steinem was awarded the medal for her women’s rights activism. When he announced this year’s winners, Obama said:
The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours. This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.
Four other of this year’s honorees are women: astronaut/science educator Sally Ride, multi-media entrepreneur and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, country singer/songwriter Loretta Lynn, glass-ceiling-breaking judge Patricia Wald.