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5 reasons why we love Gloria Steinem

updated 1:24 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
Writer and activist Gloria Steinem speaks in November during an Equality Now event in Los Angeles. Steinem helped usher in the women's liberation movement during the 1960s and 1970s, and she remains one of its most outspoken and visible symbols. Writer and activist Gloria Steinem speaks in November during an Equality Now event in Los Angeles. Steinem helped usher in the women's liberation movement during the 1960s and 1970s, and she remains one of its most outspoken and visible symbols.
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Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Feminist, activist and editor Gloria Steinem turns 80 years old today
  • A leading figure of the women's movement in the 1960s, she has help rewrite rules for women
  • She's gone from undercover journalist to starting the first U.S. female-led magazine

Editor's note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- The name "Gloria Steinem" has long been synonymous with feminism.

As a leading figure of the women's liberation movement, since the 1960s Steinem has fought tirelessly for female emancipation through her writing and activism.

As she celebrates her 80th birthday, CNN takes a closer look at how Steinem became a true symbol of gender equality.

1. Undercover agent

In 1960, a young Steinem relocated to the Big Apple to start her journalism career. Three years later, she was making a name for herself as a journalist when she showed just how far she was willing to go for a story.

The names Betty, Gloria and Shirley probably come to mind when most think of feminists, but there's a whole group of young women -- and men -- who are working toward equality. Here is a short list -- who would you add? Tweet us @CNNLiving with #fem2.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani student and education activist, who gained international attention after she was shot in 2012 by Taliban gunmen. "I want to become a prime minister of Pakistan," she said, saying it could make her "the doctor of the whole country." The names Betty, Gloria and Shirley probably come to mind when most think of feminists, but there's a whole group of young women -- and men -- who are working toward equality. Here is a short list -- who would you add? Tweet us @CNNLiving with #fem2. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani student and education activist, who gained international attention after she was shot in 2012 by Taliban gunmen. "I want to become a prime minister of Pakistan," she said, saying it could make her "the doctor of the whole country."
Young feminists
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Photos: Feminists of the future Photos: Feminists of the future
Jimmy Carter has spent much of his time post-presidency as a human rights activist and author. The rights of women was high on the agenda during his speech in May at the Carter Center conference and now the former U.S. president wants to write a book on the treatment of women. In his book proposal, as reported by The New York Times, he wrote: "I am convinced that discrimination against women and girls is one of the world's most serious, all-pervasive and largely ignored violations of basic human rights." Jimmy Carter has spent much of his time post-presidency as a human rights activist and author. The rights of women was high on the agenda during his speech in May at the Carter Center conference and now the former U.S. president wants to write a book on the treatment of women. In his book proposal, as reported by The New York Times, he wrote: "I am convinced that discrimination against women and girls is one of the world's most serious, all-pervasive and largely ignored violations of basic human rights."
Famous men who are feminists
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Famous men who are feminists Famous men who are feminists
S Korea's first female president
Modern fathers redefine masculinity

Dressed as a scantily clad "bunny," she went undercover at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club in New York. She then used the experience to shed light on the poor pay and working conditions women faced at the venue in her 1963 expose "I was a Playboy Bunny."

2. Actions over words

A decade later, Steinem had become one of the most outspoken female voices in America and was often seen as a spokesperson for gender equality.

Joining forces with other notable female leaders of the day, including Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, Steinem pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment after testifying before U.S. congress in 1970. Just two years later, the amendment was passed.

In 1971, Steinem not only co-founded Ms., the first female-led magazine, but she also started up the National Women's Political Caucus -- with the mission of increasing the number of women in politics.

3. It's in her blood

Today she's seen as a feminist icon, but she's not the first woman in her family to stand up for gender equality. In 1908, Steinem's paternal grandmother spent four years as president of the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association.

4. Activist

Giving women a platform to speak and be heard wasn't Steinem's only mission. She also lent her voice to a number of other political causes. Most notably, in 1968, she took a public stance against the Vietnam War when she vowed to stop paying tax.

Later in 1984, she was arrested alongside several other civil rights activists for disorderly conduct outside the South African embassy in Washington while protesting against apartheid.

5. The 'f' word

Though Steinem is credited as helping women find a voice in a traditionally male dominated society, she also redefined what it meant to be a "feminist."

She taught us that feminism isn't just for women when she said: "A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."

READ THIS: Happy 80th, Gloria Steinem
READ THIS: Why men should be more like Brad Pitt
READ THIS: I'm a male feminist. No, seriously

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