Nobody can really believe that Gloria Steinem has just turned 80 years old — and that includes Steinem herself.
"I don't believe it for a minute," quipped Steinem, the venerated women's rights activist, on Friday night at the annual DVF awards, where she was honored with a Lifetime Leadership Award.
"I've been stopping people in the street practically," she said in a brief interview before the awards ceremony, "and saying, 'You know, I'm having an 80th birthday,' because I have to convince myself!"
Steinem said she spent her March 25 birthday in Botswana, riding elephants. "I had done it before, and I knew that on my birthday I wanted to be riding elephants," she said. But was it the best day of her life? No, because she says the best day of her life is yet to come.
"I live in the future," she said. And besides, she added: "I have to live for another 20 years, because I can't finish my writing deadlines! So I have to at least make it to 100."
The DVF Awards were created in 2010 by designer Diane von Furstenberg and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to recognize and support "women who are using their resources, commitment and visibility to transform the lives of other women." Six women were honored Friday for their contributions.
Presenting the leadership award to Steinem, von Furstenberg challenged the audience to name "another woman in our lifetime who has done more to make women's leadership a reality."
Also honored Friday night at the ceremony at the United Nations headquarters was singer Alicia Keys, who received the Inspiration Award.
"I really believe in inspiration. I want to make inspiration my business," Keys told the crowd, to cheers.
Each award winner receives $50,000 for her chosen cause. "You can imagine how great it is to be able to give away $50,000," Steinem said, noting that her money was being used to advocate for the human rights of women and girls around the world.