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Harkin: women play major role in 2012 election

BY ANNA EGELAND | JUNE 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion of eligible women who voted has exceeded the proportion of eligible men who voted, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census Current Population Reports Series P-20.

This is one reason presidential candidates are trying so hard to capture the attention of female voters for the 2012 election and also why the number of political organizations targeted toward women has increased in recent years.

In 2008, 9.7 million more women voted in the November election than men, according to the report.

Regent Ruth Harkin spoke to a crowded room of men and women at the Iowa City Public Library Wednesday night, where she addressed what's at stake for women in the election this November.

"[Women are] 50 percent or more of the population, and they bring some of the issues about caring for others to the table," she said.

Harkin talked about health care, the economy, and education, relating each issue to Iowa women at the meeting.

"President Obama is standing up for all of the 797,000 women in the workplace in Iowa," Harkin said. "He continues to fight for legislation that will give women equal pay."

Karen Nichols, a member of the Iowa City Women for Obama Steering Committee — which was announced last month by the Iowa chapter of Obama for America — said she thinks some women are worried their voices will not be heard.

"I think for most women a lot of the issues are the same as for everyone," she said. "I do hear women expressing concerns for going back to refight old battles."

Nichols said one of the main goals of the Iowa City Women for Obama Steering Committee — which meets once a month — is to inform women about political issues. She cited the "GOP push-back" on domestic violence and equal pay for women as issues she has heard concerns about from women.

Tamara Scott, state director of Concerned Women for America of Iowa, offered a different perspective on the key issues of the 2012 presidential election. 

"Our basic mission is prayer and helping turn hearts toward God," Scott said, adding Concerned Women for America is the nation's largest public policy women's organization. "All issues affect women. Women are in the workplace, women are at home with kids, women are getting education's …"

Scott said passing legislation to ban abortions based on sex-selection and ban the use of tax dollars to pay for birth control are important issues for the upcoming election.

Concerned Women for America focuses on six core issues — the family, the sanctity of human life, religious liberty, education, pornography, and national sovereignty, according to the official websites.

Scott, who is running for Republican National Committee woman, said the groups also works against gambling, human trafficking, and Sharia law.

While the key issues in the upcoming election are important to voters of both sexes, women can offer a different perspective on political issues.

"I think women, from their environment, from their chemical and biological makeup, can bring a different perspective," Scott said, supporting her statement with the example of Deborah, a judge in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Nichols said women are also very aware of issues that affect their pocketbooks as 39 percent of working moms are the main breadwinners in their families.

"… I wouldn't say that women are more concerned parents than men, but I would say we are tuned in to issues that directly affect families," she said.


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