Gov’t officials remember Kowsilla as trailblazer for workers’ rights

On Sunday, government officials joined members of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) and other organisations to pay tribute to martyr Kowsilla, also known as Alice of Leonora.

This year marks her 59th death anniversary.

In a simple wreath-laying ceremony at her tomb in Leonora, West Coast Demerara, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, and Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall, recognised the ultimate sacrifice of Kowsilla, urging persons to let her legacy serve as a lesson in fortitude.

Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall

Minister Indar recognised the struggles faced by women in the fight for equal rights, and noted the importance of fearlessly standing up for the rights of others.

For the men that are gathered here today, I think it is our duty to support the women in their fight,” he said.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar during the wreath-laying ceremony

Meanwhile, Minister noted that Kowsilla served as a trailblazer in laying a foundation for the rights we enjoy today.

“We must go back to where we came from and relive it. We must ensure that the legacy of her ultimate sacrifice encourages us to become better at what we do in serving our communities and also standing up for what is right,” the minister urged.

The tomb of Kowsilla, also known as Alice of Leonora

On March 6, 1964, Kowsilla was murdered while standing her ground in a protest for workers’ rights in Leonora. She and 14 other women were protesting against being denied work and for the recognition of GAWU. That morning, the Estate Manager instructed a scab-driven tractor to clear the factory bridge by ploughing through workers and others who had gathered to denounce the measures of the management.

Tributes were also paid by several representatives of various organisations.