International Development

Agriculture, Science and Technology and Gender in Development

International development is Betsy's passion reflected in assignments with the United Nations, Canada's IDRC and CIDA, the Commonwealth Secretariat, APEC, and as President of the World Women's Veterinary Association.

Betsy's Expertise:
  • Gender, Science & Technology for Development
  • Women in Agriculture and Food Security
  • Women in Political Leadership
The Programs
Gender, Science and Technology for Development

While science and technology are touted as powerful tools to leap-frog development in the challenge to eradicate poverty, there persists a significant gap in both access to and benefit from S&T for women in comparison to men.

As Director of Studies for the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development "Gender Working Group", Betsy worked with the Chair, Dr. Geoffrey Oldham, UN Commissioners and an international Advisory Board of women leaders in Gender Science and Technology.

The resulting book "Missing Links" and companion Report recommended "Seven Transformative Actions" as follows:

  • Gender equity in science and technology education,
  • Removing obstacles to women in scientific and technological careers,
  • Making science responsive to the needs of society,
  • Making the science and technology decision-making process more gender-aware,
  • Relating better with local knowledge systems,
  • Addressing ethical issues in science and technology; and,
  • Improving the collection of gender disaggregated data.

The UN-CSTD recommendations tabled at ECOSOC and the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women in Development and were based on two underlying facts:

  • that technical change had primarily benefited men because development programs and projects had not systematically applied a gender specific lens; and
  • second, that girls and women faced differential access to education and careers in science because of identifiable barriers.

In 1996 World Science Report chapter on Gender, coauthored by Betsy with Dr. Sandra Harding, mapped out obstacles and illustrated best practice models. Much work since has built on this theme but there remains a significant gap in government policies and development programming that needs to be addressed.

The APEC Women Leader's Network, of which Betsy was a founding member and architect, has gone some distance in introducing tools for mainstreaming gender into the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. Betsy led the stream of activity addressing science, technology and innovatin. The Commonwealth Secretariat asked Betsy to author a Manual on Mainstreaming Gender in Ministries of Science and Technology. These manuals and many other tools need broader and more sustained application in development.

Women in Agriculture and Food Security

Women are the lynch-pin for survival in rural societies. They are the principal care-givers for multiple generations and responsible for food production and food security for the family. Women are also the main holders of local, unwritten knowledge systems passed verbally between generations. With the AIDS pandemic, millions of orphans and "Grandmother-headed households" have been left to fend for themselves. Yet women - and elder women in particular - remain largely marginalized legally, economically and often culturally.

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (read more) - set "Gender Equality" and the "End Poverty and Hunger" as two of the eight goals. Both touch the role of women in rural societies profoundly. Although animal health, and women's role taking care of animals, are not mentioned explicitly in the MDGs, they are pivotal to any imagined progress. Over half the world lives on less than $2 a day. Women, microcredit and focus on women and children in the rural sector will be central to sustainable solutions. Leveraging communication technology can be a powerful ally in achieving this goal.

As Founding President of the World Women's Veterinary Association, Betsy forged links between animal care, animal health and human health and the leadership of women - and women veterinarians - in agriculture.

Women in Political Leadership

Apart from Nordic countries where more than 40% of elected representatives are women, Parliaments around the world have fewer then 25% women in their elected chambers - a proportion that needs to be significantly scaled up! (read more).

In 1997, the Universal Declaration on Democracy, signed in Cairo, stated in its “Principles of Democracy”:

"The achievement of democracy presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society in which they work in equality and complementarity, drawing mutual enrichment from their differences."


Through five campaigns for nomination and federal election, and in supporting leadership races in her Party, Betsy has accumulated a significant number of campaigning strategies and skills. Her practical “Tool Kit” for women entering the political arena is intended to contribute towards correcting the gender gap in politics and targeted to equip and empower future women leaders.

Betsy's Background in International Development
United Nations Agencies
  • UN-FAO Jakarta, Indonesia: Office of the Resident Representative developed projects with government officials, project monitoring and evaluation.
  • UN-FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy: Worked with the first delegation from China entering the FAO
  • UNEP, WHO, World Council of Indigenous Peoples: Created policy and project guidebooks on themes of Indigenous Knowledge, the Environment, Science & Technology and Microenterprise.
  • UN-Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UN-CSTD): Director of Studies, Gender Working Group tabled its report at ECOSOC and Beijing Conference; the associated book “Missing Links” was published by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
UN and Regional Reports and Delegations
  • UNESCO 1996 World Science Report: Co-author of Gender, Science and Technology Chapter
  • UNESCO, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Genome: Member Canada’s Expert delegation for drafting sessions.
  • UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Development, Beijing, China: Leader, WWVA Delegation
  • Commonwealth Secretariat: Author of “Mainstreaming Gender in Science & Technology: A Reference Manual for Governments and Stakeholders”
  • "Science, Ethics and Governance": Coordinator, Working Group for two year study based out of Harvard Medical School:
  • Trent University: International Programs, promoted partnerships with Dubai for the promotion of women in science, technology the trades and business.
  • University Lectures: Delivered on Women's Leadership in Canada, the USA, Asia and Latin America
Canada's Development and Research Organizations
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): Research Branch & Policy Branch
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Deputy Director, Institute for Gender and Health
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC): Knowledge Brokering Project and Gender in Science and Technology for Development UN-CSTD Project with the Science Advisor to the President
NGO Global Women's Networks and Board History
  • Founding President, World Women's Veterinary Association (WWVA) implementing "grass-roots" projects for women and girls in Africa and Latin America
  • Founding Architect and Member, APEC Women Leader's Network
  • Heifer International - Board Member, Women in Livestock Development (WiLD)
  • Help Age International - Board Member
  • SHAD International - Board Member and Camp facilitator on Ethics in Leadership
Selected Workshops and Speeches
  • Motivational Speaker at Leadership Camps across Canada
  • Workshops on Values and Ethics in Leadership at Harvard School of Journalism, Graduate School of Education, Kennedy School and Medical School, Yale Law School, Michigan State Veterinary School, Ontario Veterinary College, Trent University, Euro-Bio Conference
  • Facilitator of Roundtables for Canada's Embassy in Washington on Women in Science, UNESCO Regional Conferences on "Gender, Science and Technology for Development" in Indonesia and Korea, World Veterinary Congress in Brazil and Panel on Women in Agriculture at Global Conference in Washington.

"Betsy served as a Gender Advisor to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and strong promoter of the role of women in agriculture throughout the Americas. With IICA she contacted women veterinarians throughout North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America to build development capacity and launch projects supporting women and children in the rural sector. I personally participated in several of the sessions she facilitated with UN Agencies, NGOs, public policy experts and academics in the Southern Cone. Betsy brought her significant energy and vision to all around her. Travelling to the interior of several countries, she met with farming women throughout the region. Our organization and our Region have benefited in a very real way from her dedication to development and her leadership of women in agriculture" - Dr. Ernani Fiori, Former Country Director, IICA

"In 1987, Betsy founded the "World Women's Veterinary Association" and mobilized women veterinarians around the "World Women's Veterinary Association"world to alleviate rural poverty. With UN Agencies and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, WWVA sponsored grassroots projects and published five guidebooks on women's role in agriculture, food production, microenterprise and indigenous knowledge systems. Lives were changed, and many in our network went on to positions of significant leadership because of Betsy's relentless devotion to poverty reduction, social justice and the empowerment of women's leadership in agriculture." - Dr. Kelly Butler: Former WHO Western Pacific Staff, Founding Board WWVA

"Betsy is a dynamic leader of women. She has been pivotal in founding three global women's networks and has served on several Boards of organizations dedicated to breaking barriers for girls and women in agriculture, business, science and politics. Accomplished and committed, she is a strong promoter of diversity and fearless advocate of equity. I shared many a moment with Betsy in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Development. She is a well respected leader of women's rights locally, nationally and globally." - The Hon. Flora MacDonald: First Female Secretary of State for External Affairs, Canada

"Betsy came into my life at the stage when I was exploring how to launch an idea to support a woman's health clinic in Kunduz, Afghanistan – my birth Country - and how to plan a successful fundraiser. She infused me with confidence and accepted to be a keynote speaker at our first fundraiser. Betsy strongly supported the Red Pashmina Campaign and helped me take it to Europe. A strong mentor, Betsy takes generous time to help those around her move forward with their ideas, based on her extensive experience in building NGOs to create change. Among her many initiatives, I joined her "Women in Politics" tool-box roundtable and was connected with an incredible network of strong women in the community - women who have made a significant difference in my life.

I consider Betsy a key role-model in my life and hope other young women have the opportunity to learn from her. Because of her tireless work in the community, Betsy was recognized as a Woman on Impact through the Red Pashmina Campaign. This platform allows other young girls to be inspired, as I have been, by this brilliant woman." - Maryam Monsef: Founder, Red Pashmina Campaign



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