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Civic engagement in urban governance requires new forms of urban partnerships between users designers and decision-makers To achieve these it is important to foster horizontal linkages between different organisations and actors involved in human settlements development politicians activists advocacy groups self-help organisations professionals employers users and beneficiaries It is also necessary to maintain vertical linkages between the various levels of political power - local regional national and federal - and ensure that the interests of both women and men are represented at each stage Linkages and partnerships do not necessarily imply gender harmony and lack of conflict as different interest-based groups will defend their interests both within and between organisations But it does imply keeping the channels of communication open and an inclusive rather than exclusive approach to urban partnerships Partnerships should ideally be built on shared interests reciprocal support and mutual benefit with each partner contributing according to their respective resources strengths and areas of expertise Reciprocity is built on valuing and legitimising the specific resources of the partners whether these are material resources managerial coordination local information professional expertise entrepreneurship or the enthusiasm and energy of residents Clearly there is a need to recognise the interests contributions and reciprocal potential of women as well as men An increasingly common approach to democratising and fostering the concept and process of gender-sensitive partnership is to consider women as equal stakeholders with specific interests and needs While this can be useful a potential danger is to characterise women en masse as a single group of stakeholders In reality they constitute as diverse a group as men involved in urban partnerships There are both women and men among different participant or partner groups Women are as likely as men to have opposing as well as complementary interests and concerns Thus if women are singled out as one singular group specific gender issues get ignored Furthermore the stakeholder approach might identify actors but does not necessarily
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