05/08/2014 07:50 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2014

Gloria Steinem: Reluctant Icon Honored at the New York Women's Foundation Annual Breakfast

Introducing Gloria Steinem at this year's New York Women's Foundation breakfast to the 2,200 guests at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Abigail Disney recounted the story of Steinem addressing the future "Masters of the Universe" at the all-boys Collegiate School. If you treat women with respect and kindness, and not as objects, you will get the best sex in your life, Disney repeated. And, think of your father. Think of the kind of father you would like to be, and how you can get there. In many ways the anecdote illustrates why Gloria Steinem matters. Yes, Steinem still has "IT," an ageless beauty, but that is the least of her accomplishments, compared to the values she imparts and exemplifies. When asked to whom she will pass the torch, Steinem says, I'm keeping the torch, and using it to light other torches. And in that packed room, she touched everyone.

And this year's breakfast was memorable too for other speakers, women who were enabled to turn bleak and battered lives around with the help of this vital foundation that grants many other organizations to provide work, careers, counseling, inspiration. Yes, the kidnapped young women of Nigeria were acknowledged. That is the abuse of women in the public eye today, but how about the statistic that more women were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since, say 9/11, than all those killed on that day, and in Iraq and Afghanistan combined; or a note of encouragement: equal pay for equal work will achieve economic stimulus. Women don't put their money in Swiss bank accounts, right? They spend it. The silver voiced Judy Collins ended the program singing "Amazing Grace."

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