Labour has announced the launch of a Women In Leadership mentoring programme in memory of Labour MP Jo Cox.

General Secretary Iain McNicol announced the plans to train 600 future women leaders at the opening address of the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Sunday (25 September).

He said it was the party's largest ever mentoring programme and said it would be a fitting tribute to the late MP who campaigned tirelessly for international women's rights.

Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered in front of her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June 2016.

McNicol said: "Today, following discussions and conversations with Jeremy (Corbyn), I'm pleased to announce the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme – a brand new mentoring scheme delivered in partnership with the fantastic Labour Women's Network.

"Over the next five years, we will train over 600 future women leaders, our biggest ever mentoring and development programme.

"Jo was a true champion of women in leadership roles and international feminism and this programme will create a generation of women who can continue Jo's fight in local government, in parliament and crucially in their communities, a fitting tribute to Jo's life and work."

Women's Equality Party leader Sophie Walker praised the initiative as a fitting tribute to the late MP.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, she said: "I am delighted that the Labour party has chosen to honour Jo Cox in this way.

"Equal representation in business and politics is one of WEP's six core objectives, because we know that it is not until women take an equal share of leadership roles that their needs and interests will represented on an equal footing to men's.

"This new scheme is a fitting tribute to Jo Cox, who worked tirelessly towards achieving equality during her too-short life."

However, serial entrepreneur Emma Sinclair MBE told IBTimes UK that Labour would have to lead by example if they are to make the programme worthwhile.

"I'm all in favour of programmes that seek to champion women, who are woefully under-represented in politics," she said, " but I hope that the upper echelons of the Labour Party will focus on some internal issues whilst rolling out this scheme.

"As in business, one has to lead by example. If it is to be a success, The Labour Party need to practice what they preach about nurturing and supporting future women leaders beyond mentoring."

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

The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Ukip have said they will not field any candidates out of respect for Cox. However, two far-right parties – English Democrats and Liberty GB – will contest the by-election, along with Waqas Ali Khan – a Ukip member who is running as an independent candidate.

Tracy Brabin
Tracy Brabin ho is among the short-listed Labour candidates hoping to be selected to replace Jo Cox Owen Humphreys/ PA