Prof. Catherine Kiprop 
Spokesperson: Prof. Catherine Kiprop
Governments and development agencies have given top priority to gender and diversity issues in development planning and policies. Gender affect every facet of society although their importance in academic research has been historically underappreciated and much research is still gender blind or gender biased. There is need to challenge this blindness in order to create awareness for a broader set of variables than just sex and /or gender in research. Gender as a perspective implies that biological and social gender is reflected in research content. Recently, gender bias and inequalities have been increasingly addressed taking into account their intersection with other inequality grounds such as disability, age, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity. When research fails to account for these factors, variables that contribute to outcomes can be neglected and studies may report erroneous conclusions, perpetuate knowledge gaps, create disparities or exacerbate existing inequality. A growing number of studies show that diversity, including gender balance and gender perspectives, helps to enhance the scientific quality and social relevance of research. Besides, it provides a balanced perspective on any research outcomes as it contributes to increased scientific creativity and excellence as well as inclusion of all potential users of products and services. Thus, the Gender and Diversity Office’s role is to ensure that gender and diversity is integrated in the cluster’s research activities, that is, at all stages of research: ideas, proposals, research and dissemination. The Gender and Diversity Office (hereafter GDO) is, therefore, situated at the interface of research and administration, in support of diversity in three arenas of action: 1)The individual researcher’s needs will be a focus in order to promote equal opportunities and counterbalance disadvantages; 2) Existing structures will be scrutinized regarding the situating of individual needs in broader systemic (in)equalities, so as to enable addressing changes in higher education policies; 3)Developing measures in situating critical diversity literacy and intersectionality approaches as part of good practice in the research and administration structures of the cluster. The two conceptual mainstays of the GDO are intersectionality theory and Critical Diversity Literacy, which will be consistently mobilised as aligned with the Cluster’s principles (multiplicity, reflexivity and relationality) in its academic and political purviews of reconfiguring African Studies.