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Panel to dissect role of women and women’s issues in 2012 election

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Local and state experts will discuss today how women’s issues are treated in the election and women’s changing cultural roles.

The event, called “Women, Work and Family in the 2012 Presidential Campaign,” will be held in room 180 at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law from 6:30-9 p.m., according to the college’s website.

The panelists are UF political science professor Lynn Leverty, UF law professor Shani King, State Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich (D-Weston) and State Sen. Evelynn Lynn (R-Daytona).

Trysh Travis, an associate director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at UF, which sponsors the event, said the event was inspired by treatment of women’s issues during the primaries.

She said leaders in the Gainesville female community were shocked by some views expressed in the media and wanted to invite locals to hear a rational discussion on the issues.

The associate UF women’s studies professor said women’s issues may trump other election topics for women.

“For a lot women on both ends of the political spectrum, these issues are incredibly important and they may determine the way that they vote,” Travis said.

She predicts female voters who lean toward Mitt Romney may change their vote because of Republican Party members’ positions on contraceptives and health care and government benefits access.

Other sponsors include the League of Women Voters of Alachua County and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

Former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, who moderates the panel, said 53 percent of voters are women, yet the U.S. is behind for female leaders and ranks 91st in the world for women in the legislature.

She said the election’s most discussed issues, such as the economy and health care, disproportionately affecting women, and 53 percent of the electorate is female. She adds seeing women in power is a good model for children.

“Public officials are becoming more aware of the importance of women’s votes and the importance of how issues affect women.”

Katiana Krawchenko contributed to this report. 

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