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Women’s rights activist and former WPA executive member, Andaiye, dies

Andaiye Williams pictured here on March 17, 2019 at the service for late Senior Counsel, Miles Fitzpatrick. (Demerara Waves photo)

Veteran Guyanese women’s activist and former member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Andaiye Williams died Friday after a prolonged battle with cancer, her longtime friend Joceyln Dow confirmed.

Andaiye was 77 years old.

Dow said Andaiye, a cancer survivor for 30 years, passed away at about 6:30 pm at the Woodlands Hospital in Georgetown.

Demerara Waves Online News was told that she underwent a procedure 12 days ago and since then had not responded very well.

Speaking in the presence of other former WPA members, Karen De Souza and Vanda Radzik, Dow said she remembered Andaiye as an “indomitable fighter”. “We remember her as a strong woman with a passionate love for her country especially women and children,” Dow said.

Executive member of the WPA, Professor David Hinds described Andaiye as a “very fearless”, courageous and committed Guyanese feminist who also respected men. “Andaiye was a feminist whose feminism was not anti-male; her feminism was grounded in class,” said Hinds.

As a Buxtonian, he said Andaiye was a fountain of inspiration to have some confidence in the middle class. “As a country boy, she made me feel comfortable that the middle class has feelings for working people and poor people,” he said. Hinds recalled meeting Andaiye for the last time in March, 2019 for three hours when she explored ways of mobilising young people to take control of the country to make the country better.

Professor Hinds lamented that it is unfortunate that someone of her calibre has died without being recognised. “That is the cruel part of our culture that if you are not part of the big parties, you are not reccognised,” he said.

Although Andaiye bowed out of active politics 10 years ago, he said the WPA did nothing without consulting the woman who had returned to Guyana in 1977 to join the party alongside Dr. Walter Rodney, three years after its formation.

Andaiye had played key roles in editing and composing party literature and interfacing with the international community.