Forest Gate councillor ‘inspired’ by time on Jo Cox Women in Leadership scheme
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 07:21 16 June 2017
A councillor has praised the “sisterhood” of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme on the anniversary of the MP’s death.
Cllr Seyi Akiwowo, who represents Forest Gate North, is one of 50 women nearing completion of the inaugural political mentoring scheme launched last October in memory of Mrs Cox.
The MP for Batley and Spen was murdered by a member of her constituency outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on June 16, 2016.
Cllr Akiwowo said she was “interested in joining a political senior leadership programme” but the Jo Cox initiative was an opportunity for “empowerment and some kind of release” with a chance to “discover your values and being confident in that”.
She said: “It’s about sisterhood as well and meeting women across the UK and from all different backgrounds.
“For some people it’s about discovering your voice but for me it’s about finding your voice again, and building it.”
The 25-year-old said attendees had been challenged to read “really interesting books” and develop practical skills such as hustings campaigning, website development and public speaking.
“Every little thing was well thought out to get us to grow very quickly,” she said.
The year-long programme was due to finish on June 3 but has been put on hold until the election campaign is over.
On its return, Cllr Akiwowo will have the opportunity to shadow Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust.
She said the programme had “inspired” her to run her own women-orientated community initiatives such as offering advice on how to become a councillor.
“You can see something has changed in you and you are more confident when you are speaking on doorsteps and on facebook,” she said.
Cllr Akiwowo added that the women on the Labour Party programme kept in touch “every day” on Whatsapp and the inclusive ethos was a nod to the character of Mrs Cox, a feminist and supporter of minority communities.
“Jo stayed so true to her values, she worked for the majority,” Ms Akiwowo said.
“It was inspiring and motivating to hear her story that you can be a really successful person in politics and still stay true to yourself.”