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.
The scheme involves attending two one-day sessions and one residential weekend, as well as additional development opportunities to be undertaken between sessions.
Three 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;
- five graduates were elected as Councillors in 2018;
- 20% of Labour’s record breaking 53% women General Election candidates in 2019 were Labour Women’s Network or Jo Co Women in Leadership Course graduates;
- several have become Council leaders or Cabinet members;
- one, Anna Rothery, became the first black Lord Mayor of Liverpool; and
- one, Jessie Joe Jacobs, hopes to become Labour’s first female Metro Mayor in 2021
You can watch The Labour Party's video about the impact of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme by clicking on the image of Seyi to your left or below you can read more from just a handful of graduates on their experiences of the scheme.
However, the impact of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme goes well beyond boosting representation in public life. It empowers women to empower other women, forging a powerful intersectional network of all shades of red, and encouraging them to act as agents for positive change within their local parties, communities and workplaces - qualities that mirror LWN's own training over the last three decades.
One graduate, Seyi Akiwowo, went on to found Glitch, a non-profit campaign to end online abuse, being named Digital Leader of the Year in 2019. Another graduate, 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.
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.
- From the most recent cohort,
- the youngest participant was eighteen, and the oldest mid-sixties,
- 32% identified as BAME, 20% identified as having a disability,
- 25% identified as being lesbian or bisexual,
- 43% had caring responsibilities for children under the age of 18, and 41% had caring responsibilities to adults dependents, neighbours or others.
- fewer than 20% worked professionally in politics or the trade union movement, and
- fewer than 9% had attended UK fee paying schools.
The Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme identifies exceptional Labour women who in the majority cases would never usually be able to access gold standard development opportunities of this nature.
Currently, The Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme is on hold until restrictions are lifted and we are able to meet in-person again. Once open for applications The Labour Party will email out all women Labour members to give more details.
You can find out about all of LWN training here.
You can read what a very few of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Graduates had to say about their experiences either below or click here for a PDF;