The Learning Post: insights from UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match

World Humanitarian Day: reflections on the Jo Cox Memorial Grants and the legacies they leave behind

Episode Summary

To mark World Humanitarian Day this year, we were joined by Su Moore, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation to talk about Jo Cox and the legacies that the projects funded with Jo Cox Memorial Grants will leave behind.

Episode Transcription

Laura [0:00 – 0:42]

Hello and welcome to ‘The Learning Post’, a podcast dedicated to sharing insights and learnings from the UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match funds. My name is Laura Else, and I am the Communications Specialist for UK Aid Direct and your host for this episode.

Today we focus on the background and subsequent impact of the conflict prevention and women’s empowerment projects delivered with funding from the Jo Cox Memorial Grants, and I am delighted to be joined today by Su Moore, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation. 

Su, thank you so much for joining us today.

Su [0:42 – 0:49]

Thank you so much for having us. It’s brilliant to be here to talk about the fantastic work that is happening on the basis of these grants. 

Laura [0:54 – 1:21]

It’s been four years now since the Department for International Development, now the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, launched the Jo Cox Memorial Grants in partnership with the Jo Cox Foundation. In this time, we have seen some innovative projects being developed and important insights acknowledged - including new frameworks on women’s empowerment. 

To start, I wonder if you could please give us some background into the work of the Jo Cox Foundation to help our listeners from across the globe understand the relevance of the grants’ name. 

Su [1:21 – 2:28]

Absolutely. So firstly, I’ll tell you a little about Jo Cox. So, Jo Cox was the MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, and she was murdered in her constituency in 2016. She’d only been an MP for a relatively short time but before that she had a career as a aid worker and as a humanitarian which is so key to the conversation that we are having today. 

And in the months following Jo’s murder, the Jo Cox Foundation was established, and we work to continue to make positive change on issues that Jo was really passionate about. 

So, we work in three main areas so in the UK, we work to build stronger communities so that’s focused on the words that Jo said in her first speech in parliament where she said that: “We have more in common than that which divides us.” So, we use those words as a basis for bringing people around the UK together in a variety of ways. 

We also work to build a better public life and that work is specifically focused on the reduction of abuse and intimidation of political figures. And internationally we work to build a fairer world and these grants are an incredibly important part of that work. 

Laura [2:28 – 2:37]

Su. I wonder if you could please explain how the idea for the grants came about in the first place and how they have fitted into the work of the Foundation? 

Su [2:37 - 3:21] 

The idea of the grants came about after conversations between members of Jo’s family and members of the UK Government, to think about how we could honour Jo’s life and work, through a joint programme. And after numerous conversations, the idea came about to do a joint initiative between the Foundation and what is now the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, on this series of grants. 

So, what we really wanted to do with the grants was reflect Jo’s life as a humanitarian, and really continue to bring about change and raise awareness of some of those issues that she was really passionate about, issues that we are going to talk a bit more in terms of issues with identity-based violence and women’s empowerment. 

And they fitted so brilliantly into the work of the foundation because what we want to be showing is a reflection of those issues that Jo was really passionate about, so to continue to be making change on something that was so central to the way that she had lived her life and carried out her career is so important to us at the Jo Cox Foundation.

Laura [3:32 – 4:14]

So, the Jo Cox Memorial Grants were launched in March 2018 marking International Women’s Day, which was of course no coincidence. The grants were designed to support grassroots organisations in developing countries working on issues that were close to Jo’s heart. Most of these projects were to run for 2 or 3 years and they are now coming to an end but Su, I wonder if you could talk to us about the two themes of the projects that were chosen to be supported through the funding: the prevention of identity-based violence, and supporting women’s social, economic, and political empowerment.  Why were these themes chosen? 

Su [4:14 – 5:28]

Those themes were chosen because they were issues that were so important to Jo. And one of the key things about these grants when it was decided that we would go ahead with them, was that we wanted to authentically tell the story of Jo’s interests and values. 

So in terms of identity-based violence, Jo was absolutely dedicated to the prevention of mass atrocities and one of the things she said was that if you ignore a problem it gets worse so this is why these grants are focused on the early prevention of identity based violence. 

In terms of women’s empowerment, it was a subject that Jo was absolutely passionate about throughout her career both as an international aid worker and humanitarian, but also in parliament. She worked really passionately to empower women into politics in the UK and it was really fitting that that was one of the subjects that we chose for the grants to reflect that work internationally, as well. 

But I think it’s also important to say that those two subjects are not stand alone, there are a number of the grants that show the link between them, for example grants that show the importance of women in work that shows the early prevention of identity-based violence so they are very much complimentary the themes rather than stand alone.

Laura [5:28 – 5:58] 

And if we consider some of the figures for the moment - almost 9 million pounds has now been distributed through the Jo Cox Memorial Fund, through 21 projects, in 17 countries, reaching 82.5 thousand people and this includes over 51.5 thousand women and girls and over 8,000 of those people have disabilities. - This might be a difficult question to answer, Su, but why do you think, this work that is making such a big difference in the world to women and girls especially, is a fitting legacy?

Su [5:58 – 6:56]: Well firstly I just want to reflect on those incredible figures. I’m looking at them in front of me now and sometimes you don’t quite appreciate them when they’re read out. That’s a huge impact that these grants have had in Jo’s name around the world so I think that’s something for everyone involved to be incredibly proud of. 

But in terms of your question about why it makes such a big difference and why it’s a fitting legacy, as I said before, the Jo Cox Foundation exists to continue to make positive change on issues that Jo was passionate about. She was absolutely passionate about empowering women and girls, so to continue to make that positive change, to continue to impact the lives of women and girls around the world in Jo’s name, and to build systems and processes that are going to continue even when the grants have finished, to make a difference I think that’s a brilliant and fitting legacy. 

Laura [6:56 -7:22]

Thank you so much Su, thanks so much for your time. 

Su: Absolute pleasure thank you. 

Laura: To find out more about the Jo Cox Memorial Grants and the difference they have made and are still making in the world, head over to the UK Aid Direct website www.ukaiddirect.org

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Thanks for listening.