Emma Ritch: Engender Scotland boss and devoted feminist Emma Ritch dies suddenly, drawing tributes from Nicola Sturgeon

Tributes have been paid to devoted women’s equality campaigner Emma Ritch who has died suddenly.

Emma Ritch was the executive director of women’s equality group Engender and chairwoman of the board of trustees for Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS), an organisation working to end sexual violence towards women.

The committed campaigner and devoted feminist, who has been described as “extraordinary” and who has worked to make Scotland a better place for women, died on Friday, July 9.

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Ms Ritch’s colleagues and friends at Engender announced news of her death on social media, paying tribute to the dedicated feminist advocate saying: “Over a career dedicated to realising women’s equality and rights, Emma has been hugely influential in the movement in Scotland, through both her paid work and in a number of voluntary roles.

“Her intelligence and insight, kindness, and passionate feminism have made Scotland a better place for women, as well as enriching the lives of those who knew her personally.

“Emma’s death is a huge shock to us all.

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“We are sending all of our love to Emma’s family and friends, and anybody struggling with this news.

"The Engender office will be closed this week as we collectively process the loss of our brilliant director, colleague, and friend.”

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Emma Ritch, former executive director at Engender in Scotland picture: Beth Chalmers

Scotland’s First Minister was one of many public figures paying tribute to Ms Ritch following news of her death.

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Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is dreadful and devastating news.

"Emma was such a force for good - a passionate advocate for women’s rights and a champion of justice and equality. She was also a cherished friend to many.

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"She will be missed beyond words. Sending love to her family, friends and colleagues.”

RCS released a statement paying tribute to its former chairwoman of the group’s board of trustees saying: “Emma was a committed, passionate and witty feminist and advocate for women and girls in Scotland, Europe and beyond.

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"She devoted her life to working for true equality for women and girls and we are incredibly proud and grateful that she chose to spend so much of her time with us at Rape Crisis Scotland.”

Ms Ritch joined the RCS board in 2011 after which she made “an extraordinary impact on the work of our organisation, and in the feminist movement in Scotland as a whole,” the statement said.

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It added: “Emma led with conviction and determination and a resolute belief that social, political and economic equality for women is something that can be achieved; we will continue this work in her memory. She was a friend and a colleague, and we will miss her.

“Our thoughts are with Emma’s partner and loved ones, colleagues at Engender and all who knew her at this difficult time.”

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Jackie Baillie MSP also commented on news of Ms Ritch’s death.

The Scottish Labour deputy leader said: “Emma Ritch was an extraordinary, warm, generous, and thoroughly wonderful person who advanced the cause of equality immeasurably.

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“The condolences of the Scottish Labour Party go to her family and friends.

“This is truly heartbreaking news. She will be missed.”

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Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch said: “I’m so very sorry to hear this. Emma was funny, sharp, generous and brave.

“Hard to believe this terrible news out of the blue. My thoughts with friends, family and all who worked with Emma.

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“Tomorrow truly is promised to no-one.”

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