First Minister leads tributes to women’s rights charity boss who died suddenly

Nicola Sturgeon has led tributes to the head of a gender equality charity who died last week.

The First Minister described Emma Ritch, the executive director of women’s rights organisation Engender, as a “force for good” after the charity announced she passed away “suddenly” on Friday.

Engender said in a statement on Twitter: “It is with profound sadness we share the news that our executive director, Emma Ritch, passed away suddenly on Friday July 9.

“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.”

Also on Twitter, the First Minister said: “This is dreadful and devastating news.

“Emma (pictured) 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. She will be missed beyond words. Sending love to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Tributes were also paid by journalists who had worked with Ms Ritch as well as cabinet ministers, other women’s rights organisations and activists.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Such sad news. My thoughts are with Emma’s family, friends and colleagues.

“Emma was a passionate advocate for women’s rights.

“She achieved so much but there is still so much to do to get the society that Emma campaigned for. Heartbreaking.”

The charity announced it would be closed for this week, to allow staff to “collectively process the loss of our brilliant director, colleague, and friend”.

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