Caroline Cox is a remarkable lady. 6 July 2016 is her 79th Birthday. She is mother to 2 sons and a daughter as well as grandmother to 10 children. But she is no ordinary grandmother who likes to sit at home knitting, baking cakes and watching television.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 11.58.29She has been accused by some of being a secret agent because of her ability to enter countries whose oppressive governments are intent on keeping her out. Her work in protecting the rights of Muslim women from oppression through Sharia courts in the UK has bizarrely also led to her being called Islamophobic.

She was created a Life Peer in 1982 for her contributions to education and has served as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005. Lady Cox now sits in the Lords as a crossbencher and is a frequent contributor to Lords debates on Sudan, India, Nigeria, Uganda, and Burma.

In 2003 she founded the relief organisation HART. Her humanitarian aid work has taken her on many missions to conflict zones, allowing her to obtain first hand evidence of the human rights violations and humanitarian needs. Areas travelled include the Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh (where she has been so far  83 times); Sudan; Nigeria; Uganda; the Karen; Karenni; Shan and Chin peoples in the jungles of Burma; and communities suffering from conflict in Indonesia. She has also visited North Korea helping to promote Parliamentary initiatives and medical programmes. Additionally Caroline has been instrumental in helping to change the former Soviet Union policies for orphaned and abandoned children from institutional to foster family care.

In recognition of her work in the international humanitarian and human rights arenas she has received a huge number of awards. She had been awarded the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; the prestigious Wilberforce Award; the International Mother Teresa Award from the All India Christian Council; the Mkhitar Gosh Medal conferred by the President of the Republic of Armenia; and the anniversary medal presented by Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland, at the 25th anniversary of the Polish Solidarity Movement. Lady Cox has also been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Honorary Doctorates by universities in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Russian Federation and Armenia.

Do join us on this podcast as we discuss with Baroness Cox her fascinating life:

  • The influence of her father , Robert McNeill Love, an internationally renown surgeon.
  • Her life long battle with shyness, depression and what she calls ‘faithless fearful dread’.
  • Her  40 year marriage to Dr Murray Newall Cox until his death in 1997. He was a renown psychiatrist who applied insights from Shakespeare to his forensic patients.
  • Her unexpected transition from nursing to sociology.
  • A 5 year crucible of fire in becoming a lecturer at the Polytechnic of North London in 1972 when it was infiltrated by Marxists and Communists.
  • The serialisation in 1975 of these experiences in ‘The Times’ newspaper by the journalist Bernard Levin of a book she co-authored called  ‘The Rape of Reason’. His description of the Polytechnic of North London at the time as “In All It’s Brutality, The Making Of An Intellectual Concentration Camp.”
  • Coming to the attention of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 to become a life peer in the House of Lords.
  • The important work she is currently doing in the UK to ensure that Muslim women are not discriminated against by Sharia courts.
  • Her remarkable journey of being a nurse and social scientist by intention and a baroness by astonishment.
  • Where she finds the courage and passion to show grit as well as be so determined and resilient.
  • Her message to those who look ahead to what to do in the second half of their lives.
  • How God looks no so much to our ability, but our availability.

For more on work with the suffering of vulnerable women in the UK who experience religiously-sanctioned gender discrimination do see the Equal and Free website here.

We will be discussing the work of HART in more detail in a future podcast, but you can find out more information here.

What reflections, comments and thoughts does Baroness Cox’s life raise for you?