JO COX MP WAS A PASSIONATE FEMINIST WHO WAS TIRELESS IN HER ENTHUSIASM FOR MAXIMISING WOMEN’S VOICES IN POLITICS.
JO WAS THE FIRST EVER ELECTED CHAIR OF LABOUR WOMEN’S NETWORK, LEADING THE ORGANISATION FROM 2011 UNTIL HER ELECTION AS MP FOR BATLEY AND SPEN IN 2015.
Jo’s tragic assassination in 2016 cut short a parliamentary career characterised by guts, partnership working and energetic truth telling.
LWN and The Labour Party created the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme in 2016 in the months following her death to continue Jo’s legacy by investing in a generation of women leaders within The Labour Party who have the skills, experience and networks to change the world and to support other women in doing so.
Open to all women members of The Labour Party, the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme offers places to approximately 55 women each year, from all regions of the UK.
LWN provides the expert training and carefully crafted course content, while The Labour Party manage the application process.
Applications for Cohort 6 is now closed.
We know from experience, demand will be high to be part of this course, and not everyone will be offered a place. The selection process is rigorous and to give everyone the best chance, LWN Director, Claire Reynolds, wrote a piece for LabourList, which gave ten top tips for a good application, click here to read.
The scheme involves both online and in person sessions and one residential weekend, as well as additional development opportunities to be undertaken between sessions.
Five cohorts of women have now successfully graduated from the course.
The course is highly successful in increasing women’s success in standing for elected office:
- two graduates, Preet Gill and Rosie Duffield, became Members of Parliament in 2017, and one, Ashley Dalton, at a by-election in 2023;
- several further graduates have been selected to fight the next General Election;
- 20% of Labour’s record breaking 53% women General Election candidates in 2019 were Labour Women’s Network or Jo Cox Women in Leadership Course graduates;
- several have become Council leaders or Cabinet members; and
- two, Shaista Aziz and Amna Abdul were nominated for an ITV News National Diversity Award for their work as part of the Three Hijabis.
However, the impact of the Scheme goes far further than representational - it has created an army of feminist change-makers, rattling cages and working towards equality in their communities, work places and local Labour parties.
You can read LWN Chair, Abena Oppong-Asare MP, paying tribute to the impact of the Scheme and Jo's political legacy in the Commons, here;
Hear Helen Whitehead from Cohort four, testimony: “It is no exaggeration to state that being selected for this programme changed my life. As an autistic woman, I still don’t fit in conventional politics, and I still don’t know exactly what my place is in the world – but this course showed me that I don’t have to fit and, in fact, that it’s rather important that I don’t.
“It showed me that the kind of politics I believe in is possible; that I have abilities and strengths that are important; and that it is worth every effort, and every struggle, to be able to use them.”
Or watch The Labour Party's video about the impact of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme from 2017, which features Preet Kaur Gill MP (cohort one).
The impact of the Leadership Scheme
Seyi Akiwowo, went on to found Glitch, a non-profit campaign to end online abuse, being named Digital Leader of the Year in 2019. Bex Bailey, was named in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her role in the #MeToo movement, and went on to work for the BBC. Meanwhile, cohort 4 graduates Amna Abdul and Shaista Aziz were shortlisted for a National Diversity Award for their work as part of The Three Hijabis. Three other cohort 4 sisters, Jayne Kirkham, Marie Tidball and Anna Dixon have now been selected to stand for Parliament for Labour.
"Firstly, it was a massive privilege to be part of one of 57 women on the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme.
There was an immense amount of pride in becoming the first Sikh female MP. The programme was just wonderful. Firstly, because of Jo Cox, her legacy, the things that she achieved, what she stood for.
It was a very emotional moment to, in her memory, have something that promotes women coming through. But with it comes a real sense of responsibility, the biggest being to give other people a break and an opportunity.
The programme really made me think about who I am and what I wanted to become – it was just priceless.” PREET KAUR GILL MP, COHORT 1
"Alison McGovern MP described Jo Cox’s support as akin to ‘having one arm wrapped around your shoulder and the other one pushing you forward.
The programme itself is designed to prepare women to take roles of leadership into politics and beyond. It was a surreal and humbling experience to have so much time and energy invested into me from the party.
It gave me confidence and made me feel valued. Now I’ve graduated from the programme, I feel as though there’s isn’t anything that my persuasive, eloquent and determined sisters and I can’t achieve together.
I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.” DEEBA SYED, COHORT 2
“Jo Cox Women in Leadership is more than simply a programme!
It is a catalyst for change, growth and solidarity for those on the programme and more importantly those whose lives they impact on a daily basis.
I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of cohort 3 and have access to such thought-provoking training, honesty and tools to help me.
I have returned a more confident woman who can use her voice more effectively. The beauty has been watching my other Jo Cox sisters do the same. Despite being located all over the UK we encourage each other daily. Thank you for planting such incredible seeds of wisdom!” COUNCILLOR SHARON THOMPSON, COHORT 3
“It is no exaggeration to state that being selected for this programme changed my life.
As an autistic woman, I still don’t fit in conventional politics, and I still don’t know exactly what my place is in the world – but this course showed me that I don’t have to fit and, in fact, that it’s rather important that I don’t.
“It showed me that the kind of politics I believe in is possible; that I have abilities and strengths that are important; and that it is worth every effort, and every struggle, to be able to use them.” HELEN WHITEHEAD, COHORT 4
"Being accepted on the course made me feel part of a Labour family in a way that I hadn't previously felt.
It made me feel accepted and that the Party/sisterhood saw my potential." COUNCILLOR BELLA SANKEY, COHORT 5
You can read more from our supporter | members | alumni testimony here
We our proud of the diversity of our Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme graduates, who include doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, carers, musicians, firefighters, and train drivers.
Our diversity statistics for Cohort Four or click here to see a PDF of the Diversity monitoring for Cohort 4 (2022) of the scheme.
You can find out about all of LWN training here.