Jo Cox: Labour launches women leaders scheme in MP's memory

Jo Cox speaking in the Commons Image copyright Parliament TV
Image caption Jo Cox speaking in the Commons

A mentoring scheme to help hundreds of women into leadership roles has been launched by the Labour Party in memory of MP Jo Cox.

It aims to help over 600 women to enter politics over the next five years.

Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, died after she was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June.

Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol said it was a fitting memory to the mother-of-two who was a champion of international feminism.

The programme is a joint venture between the Labour Party and the Labour Women's Network.

It will train and mentor women to put themselves forward for being MPs, councillors, elected mayors and other positions within the party.

'Push women forwards'

Labour MP Rachel Reeves told the BBC: "There were many causes that Jo was passionate about and one of them was about women in leadership and women in politics. She was the first chair of the Labour women's network.

"My friend Alison McGovern, MP in the Wirral, describes being supported by Jo was like having one arm wrapped around your shoulder and the other one pushing you forward and that's what Jo was like.

"She encouraged other women to go for parliamentary selections and put themselves forward."

Image copyright PA

The initiative comes after dozens of female Labour MPs wrote to party leader Jeremy Corbyn urging him to do more to tackle personal abuse during the leadership campaign.

Leadership rival Owen Smith also accused Mr Corbyn of not doing enough to clamp down on "intolerance and misogyny".

The Conservative Party, the SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and Green Party are now all headed by women.

Ms Reeves said it had been "a difficult year" for many Labour women MPs but the scheme was to help "change what politics looks like".

Former soap actress Tracy Brabin has been selected as Labour's candidate for the by-election sparked by Mrs Cox's death, which will take place on October 20.

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