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Sandra Williams

(1942-09-11)11 September 1942
Died31 May 2019(2019-05-31) (aged 76)
Georgetown, Guyana

Andaiye, born Sandra Williams (11 September 1942 – 31 May 2019),[1][2] was a Guyanese social, political, and gender rights activist, who has been described as "a transformative figure in the region's political struggle, particularly in the late 1970s, '80s and '90s".[3] She was an early member of the executive of the Working People's Alliance (WPA) in Guyana, alongside Walter Rodney, among others, and served as Coordinator and Editor, International Secretary and Women's Secretary, until 2000.[4] A founding member of the women's development organization Red Thread in Guyana in 1986,[5] Andaiye was also an executive member of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA).[4] She worked with the Women and Development Unit of the University of the West Indies (WAND) from 1987 to 1992, and from 1987 to 1996 with CARICOM,[4] where she was a resource person preparatory to the 1995 World Conference on Women held in Beijing.[6] Other groups with which she worked include the Global Women's Strike (GWS), the Women’s International Network for Wages for Caring Work, and Women Against Violence Everywhere (WAVE).[1][7]


She was born Sandra Williams in Georgetown Hospital, Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana), to Hazel (née Carto)[8] and Frank Williams, who were both nurses at the time of her birth;[1][9] her brother is Abyssinian Carto.[10] When she was two years old her father went to London to study medicine, soon joined by her mother, while their daughter was brought up by an aunt and uncle until they returned when she was eight or nine.[11]

She was educated at St Sidwell's Primary School, Georgetown, and for a year and a half in Scotland, where her father did further studies, and on her return to Guyana aged 12 attended Bishops' High School for Girls, going on to the University College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica (1961–64), to study Languages, completing a BA Honours degree in French and Spanish.[12][13][14] Her studies included a year in France, and she returned to Guyana in 1965, subsequently working as a schoolteacher, while becoming involved with organizations such as Ratoon, New World, and Movement Against Oppression (MAO).[15]

She changed her name in 1970, adopting the Swahili name Andaiye, meaning "a daughter comes home",[16][17] In 1971 she went to New York, taking a job at Queens College, City University of New York, and becoming increasingly politically active.[18] She returned to live in Guyana in January 1978, having begun to support the fledgling Working People's Alliance (WPA).[19] She said in a 2003 interview, "I worked full time with the WPA from 1978 to 1986, then full time with the WPA and Red Thread from 1986 to 1987 without a wage, and then I worked part time with the Women and Development Unit [WAND] in Barbados, going up occasionally from my base in Guyana."[20]

A cancer survivor for 30 years, she was a founder of the Guyana Cancer Society and Cancer Survivors Action Group.[3] She died on 31 May 2019 at the Woodlands Hospital, Carmichael Street, Georgetown, aged 76.[2] She was acknowledged as "a revolutionary, who fought hard to protect the rights of citizens and particularly women and children"[21] and a statement from the WPA noted that "until the very end she remained a committed soldier of the cause of social justice, women and children rights, working class liberation and ethnic and racial equality."[22] Those who paid their condolences and tributes were led by President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who said: "Andaiye was a champion of the working people and a model fighter for women empowerment. She would be remembered best for her frontline place in the struggle against authoritarian rule."[22][23]

A celebration of her life was held on Saturday, 8 June 2019,[24] at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, where tributes were paid by members of Red Thread, the Emancipation Support Committee, the Global Women’s Strike, Help & Shelter, the Working People’s Alliance, and many others.[25]


In 1997 Andaiye was awarded Guyana's national honour of Golden Arrow of Achievement.[1]


Andaiye contributed articles and chapters to many publications,[3] including the 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa.[3] She had compiled a collection of her own writings and speeches over 50 years of activism, which will be posthumously published under the title The Point is to Change the World.[26]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • (with Peggy Antrobus), Towards a Vision of the Future: Gender Issues in Regional Integration, St. Michael, Barbados: Women and Development Unit, School of Continuing Studies, University of the West Indies,1991.
  • "Women and Poverty in Guyana". In Poverty in Guyana: Finding Solutions. uyana: Institute of Development Studies, University of Guyana, 1993. 35–51.
  • The Valuing of Women's Unwaged Work. St. Michael, Barbados: Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies, 1994.
  • Democracy and Development: The Case of Guyana, St. Michael, Barbados: Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies, 1995.
  • "The Red Thread Story: Resisting the Narrow Interests of a Broader Political Struggle". In Suzanne Francis Brown (ed.), Spitting in the Wind: Lessons in Empowerment from the Caribbean, Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000.
  • The Angle You Look From Determines What You See: Towards a Critique of Feminist Politics in the Caribbean, Mona, Jamaica: Centre for Gender and Development Studies, 2002.


  1. ^ a b c d Joanne Collins-Gonsalves, "Andaiye (1942– )", in Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (eds), Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro–Latin American Biography, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Denis Chabrol, "Women’s rights activist and former WPA executive member, Andaiye, dies", Demerara Waves, 31 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Margaret Busby (ed.), "Andaiye", New Daughters of Africa, London: Myriad Editions, 2019, p. 45.
  4. ^ a b c "Honorees 2013: Andaiye", Institute for Gender and Development Studies, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.
  5. ^ Kamala Kempadoo, "Red Thread’s Research: An Interview with Andaiye", Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, Issue 7, 2013, pp. 1–17.
  6. ^ "Andaiye, activist, founding member of Red Thread, dies", Kaieteur News, 2 June 2019.
  7. ^ David Scott, "Counting Women's Caring Work: An Interview with Andaiye", Small Axe, 15 (March 2004), pp. 125–126.
  8. ^ Scott (2004), p. 126.
  9. ^ Kimberly D. Nettles, "A Daughter Comes Self", Guyana Diaries: Women's Lives Across Difference, Chapter 9 (pp. 231–258), Routledge, 2016, p. 233.
  10. ^ "Dr Frank Williams’s life celebrated in music and words", Stabroek News, 11 September 2015.
  11. ^ Scott (2004), p. 127.
  12. ^ Nettles, "A Daughter Comes Self" (2016), pp. 237–41.
  13. ^ Scott (2004), pp. 147, 150.
  14. ^ "About", Andaiye 1942–2019 website.
  15. ^ Scott (2004), pp. 154–164.
  16. ^ Olayiwola Abegunrin, Sabella Ogbobode Abidde (eds), "Latin America and the Caribbean: Women and Pan-Africanism", in Pan-Africanism in Modern Times: Challenges, Concerns, and Constraints, Lexington Books, 15 June 2016, p. 197.
  17. ^ Scott (2004), p. 137; note 6.
  18. ^ Scott (2004), pp. 169–171.
  19. ^ Scott (2004), p. 172.
  20. ^ Scott (2004), p. 177.
  21. ^ Zoisa Fraser, "Andaiye, revolutionary rights activist, dies at 77", Stabroek News, 2 June 2019.
  22. ^ a b "President Granger extends condolences on passing of Andaiye", Guyana Chronicle, 2 June 2019.
  23. ^ Rebecca Ganesh, "Message of Condolence on the death of Andaiye A.A.", Department of Public Information, Guyana, 1 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Celebrating Andaiye.
  25. ^ "Last rites for Andaiye", Stabroek News, 12 June 2019.
  26. ^ Andaiye, "An Open Letter to Young People", Stabroek News. Note by Alissa Trotz, Diaspora Column Editor.

Further reading[edit]

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