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The 7 Women Being Awarded the Medal of Freedom

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President Obama has announced the 19 recipients of the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Among them are seven women who have made, according to the White House, “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

The award was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and will be presented to winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 24. “From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” Obama said in a press release. Here, the talented women being recognized for their pioneering work.

1. Meryl Streep. Not only did she give us a pitch-perfect performance in The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep holds the record for most Academy Award nominations of any actor in history. (Streep also has great advice on body confidence. See what she has to say in Celeb Body Image Quotes We Love.)

2. Patsy Takemoto Mink. Takemoto Mink was the first woman of color elected to Congress in 1964. She spent 12 terms as a Hawaii Congresswoman. She co-authored Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which vastly improved women’s opportunities in sports by stating that no one could be excluded from participation in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance on the basis of sex.

3. Ethel Kennedy. Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has dedicated her life to advancing the cause of social justice, human rights, environmental protection, and poverty reduction across the world.

4. Isabel Allende. Chilean born Allende has authored 21 books that have sold 65 million copies in 35 languages. She has been called the most widely read Spanish-language author.

5. Mildred Dresselhaus. Dresselhaus’ work in physics, materials science, and electrical engineering has deepened the world’s understanding of physics, which contributed to major advances in electronics and materials research.

6. Suzan Harjo. Through her writing and activism, Harjo has helped to improve the lives of Native peoples by working on important Indian legislation, like the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

7. Marlo Thomas. Actress, producer, and author Marlo Thomas portrayed one of the first single working women on TV in the series That Girl, and founded the feminist children’s franchise Free to Be…You and Me. She is also the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a champion for treatment and research of pediatric cancer.

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