Anne sits on the Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster and paid this tribute to Emma at the committee before recess in July.
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.
We know that many Engender members and supporters will be deeply saddened and shocked by this news, and will be keen to pay tribute to her life and work. Please feel free to leave a message of condolence or your memories of Emma by using the form below. We will also be gathering social media posts to share with Emma's family.
You can choose to leave your message private and it will be sent to Emma’s colleagues and family, or to make it public and it will appear here for others to see. All messages will be moderated before being published, so there may be a delay in seeing yours appear on the site.
If you would like to leave a donation in Emma's memory, details of the two charities chosen by Emma's family are:
Glasgow Women's Library
Donations can be made via the donations page on the GWL online shop. People will be able to donate via PayPal, and Emma can be named in the 'order notes' field.
British Heart Foundation
Donations can be made in memory of Emma online, by phone or by post. Full details are here.
Anne sits on the Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster and paid this tribute to Emma at the committee before recess in July.
Emma made a huge impression on me in a very short amount of time – and that she was such a strong, vibrant and often formidable character makes this news even more shocking.
Emma was completely dedicated and persistent in her pursuit of women’s equality, a force to be reckoned with, and her passing will be felt keenly by all who knew her. My condolences are with her work colleagues, family and friends.
Emma Ritch was a rare bright star. Our loss is inestimable.
I was deeply shocked and saddened on hearing of Emma's sudden death. It is difficult to comprehend that the lively, intelligent, witty woman I first met when she joined the Board of Engender is no longer here - an untimely and cruel loss. I was delighted when Emma was appointed as the Executive Director of Engender and under her leadership Engender has gone from strength to strength. Emma was an outstanding leader and has contributed so much to the cause of women's equality and feminism in Scotland and further afield. She deployed her many talents - her rigorous intelligence, subtlety, strategic ability, communication and coalition building skills, together with her personal qualities of commitment, passion, humour and empathy - in the service of the causes she believed in. She had already achieved so much but had so much more to give and, in her lifetime, Emma gave unstintingly.
I grieve for the loss of Emma. I feel deeply for those closest to her - her partner, her family, her close friends and colleagues here and across the world - who are now experiencing such pain and grief and send them my deepest sympathy.
Emma has left an indelible and precious mark and made an immense contribution to the causes of feminism and equality. As, alongside so many others, I mourn her loss, we are bound by sisterhood and shared commitment to continue the fight for equality that Emma so significantly advanced. Thank you Emma, we will remember all you have meant to us and all that you have achieved.
What a blow we have been dealt! Our paths have crossed many a time over the years and I enjoyed talking to you every time Emma. You were one of those people I thought of as the REAL DEAL. Words fail me. Condolences to all your family, friends and colleagues x
We are all so very sad and shocked to hear of the loss of Emma.
Her unfailing support for women and women's rights has helped tackle some long-standing inequalities and catalyse change. She has been an inspiring role model for so many women and girls, instilling greater confidence and determination to progress equality. Emma's passing is a huge loss and we send our love and thoughts to all her family, friends and colleagues at Engender.
Like others, I knew Emma on the UK 4 Nations, European and International feminist circuit, working with her at the UN and at the European Women’s Lobby. I don’t say this flippantly – turning up in Geneva felt very big and scary and though Emma hadn’t met me until we said hello in the hotel lobby, I went in knowing she already had my back and was an amazing ally, helping me find my way – not only to “ascenseur quatre-vingt deux” (a much coveted lift in the UN building) which took us to exactly where we needed to go amongst the maze of corridors (I seen now that getting lost was a specialty, so the enthusiasm for the lift makes a great deal of sense in hindsight) – but more broadly in my early career in the women’s sector in Wales. We met in many different cities, often for long coffee-fuel days and she was always a brilliant workshop comrade as well as dinner pal. I feel lost knowing she’s not there on the end of the phone or a quick email and am devastated, struggling to put into context the weight of this loss and the loss for her wonderful colleagues at Engender. I’m incredibly fortunate that my partner knew and loved Emma as much as I did, so we can share stories and many wonderful anecdotes. In these spaced out but impactful encounters spanning years, there are lessons of diplomacy and compassion that are far reaching, many of which I think about often as I continue to fight for equality through my work. I have never known anyone to speak with sure flare as Emma and to me, the first analogy that came to my mind was a bit odd, but bear with me: I pictured Rafa Nadal’s footwork in tennis. Yes, he could just hit the ball back into play, or he could maneuver his entire body around the ball in time to smash a winner down the line. Emma’s linguistic footwork was the stuff of legends. In Welsh solidarity and with love to my Scottish feminist sisters, Hilary x
Emma reached out to me with messages of condolences when my aunt died, who was a former colleague of Emma’s and I was touched by this alone.
I didn’t know Emma personally and had no idea the amazing work she has achieved for women - now I do, I am in awe! What a role model. Sending condolences to family and friends.
Emma was one of the greatest women of our time.
Her legacy will last long and loud.
I knew Emma from the distance of being in Wales and her in Scotland, however she always felt so close because of the immense generosity she emitted in all her engagement with fellow feminists across the UK and beyond. Emma's power resonates far beyond the borders of Scotland and her Celtic sisterhood has left many impressions on me and many others. While many have mentioned the great ability Emma had for finding the right words at the right time, it is a look that keeps coming back to me over the last few weeks since I heard the awful news. We would be in some European or UK wide meeting and Emma would look across the table with a raised eyebrow and a smile on her face and you knew, 1. she was with you, she had your back and 2. she was about to drop a line that hit the nail right on the head. She had an amazing ability to bring people together on an issue and diplomatically find the right path forward while also having fun on the way. I will treasure the many fond memories of breakfasts in Brussels or elsewhere, long skype calls and sidebar chats where we seemed to simultaneously be plotting feminist revolutions and comparing snacks or G&T options. I will miss Emma so much. Sending a big cwtch and love to all my feminist sisters in Scotland, as well as Kenny and Emma's family.
I was so sorry to hear of Emma’s untimely passing. I knew Emma when we were both involved in the SWBG a long time ago, but our paths crossed at various points over the years. Emma was such a positive and formidable champion of women’s equality, and really made a difference, not simply in bringing about progressive change, but in the way she achieved it. While Emma will be a huge miss to public life, I can only imagine the gap she leaves in the lives of her family, friends and colleagues. Sincere condolences to her loved ones.
The team at Equate Scotland were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of Emma Ritch. Emma was a long-standing friend to Equate Scotland, and her work at Engender reflected her commitment and passion to making the lives of women better. She was always generous with her time, her knowledge, and her contacts. Emma truly demonstrated feminism at its best, always leaving a ladder for others to climb up, and a helping hand along the way. She will be remembered fondly for not just what she did, but for how she did it.
Emma was a mentor to me (despite me being older!) when I first moved to Scotland. She introduced me to the complexities of the Scottish feminist landscape - in Engender board meetings when I hadn't a clue who anyone people were talking about were, she'd pass me notes explaining. We shared carbohydrate heavy lunches in stationery shops and worked together professionally when we both moved and changed roles. Emma was Scottish feminism's guiding star - wherever you went, she was there with one of her many hats on, always generous with her wisdom and time. Thousands of women in Scotland who never even met her owe her a lot, let alone those of us privileged enough to work with her directly. All love to her many sisters still in the fight.
So sorry to hear about Emma's passing. She was an amazing woman who inspired so many of us. Her legacy will live on and many of us will aim to honour her in our work going forward. Love to all her family and friends.
Emma had this aura of cool cleverness that meant she couldn't fail to make an immediate impression. I only knew Emma through my work as a journalist and yet I was devastated to hear about her death. She was always so generous with her time - providing comments on the phone, or by email. I remember meeting at events, and for coffee to discuss a particularly thorny piece of work. At that meeting in particular she was so supportive and wise and insightful in her background briefing. We met in Paperchase, surrounded by the stationary that she was such a fan of, and the converstation - grim due to the subject matter - was still puncuated with laughter prompted by her deliciously dark sense of humour. She was a solid sounding board - always rigerous and well-researched. Her trademark intelligence allowed her to cut through the debate and deliver razor sharp insights. I know so many great women who were her friends, her sisterhood. And I know they will carry on her legacy, holding her ideas and vision aloft. But I so wish she could continue with them. Sending all love and light to those who loved her. The echoes of everything she achieved sound loud and long.
It’s hard to find words, but what I know and remember of Emma was her steely determination to use every ounce of energy she had to fight for the rights of all women & girls. She held us politicians to account but was also always on the end of the phone to give advice and support at crucial moments. I had several really helpful chats with her where she offered excellent support and advice. I remember going to an event she was speaking at and was just completely bowled over by her intellect, wit and the funny and warm way she delivered information. It’s hard to measure the loss, it’s impossible and the gap she leaves is huge. I know her work and memory will live on and my thoughts and condolences are with her colleagues, friends and family. X
I didn't have the chance to get to know Emma as well as I would have liked, but every time I met and spoke with her, the sharpness of her wit and intellect, and the warmth of her heart, was so fully on display. She has transformed the sector in Scotland, and changed the lives of many women. She will be sorely missed by so many. My thoughts are with all who loved her, and I hope these testimonials will - in due course - bring them some comfort. Rest in Power.
I'll remember Emma for her searing intelligence, warmth and wit. I was often struck not just by how much she knew about a topic, but how she'd clearly thought carefully about the craft of her argument. Who she was trying to convince, how she might break the ice with a laugh.
She had a calmness to her as well, patiently breaking down every argument against her cause, taking people with her every step of the way.
There are big battles ahead that will sorely miss Emma's approach to calmly, convincingly progressing the case for equality. That's why her loss is not just an utter tragedy for her family and friends, it's Scotland and the wider world's loss too. What a woman.
The Engender statement ' Honouring Emma's legacy' sums up Emma's contribution and strengths so well. Our best wishes go to family, friends and colleagues. Jan Macleod, Women's Support Project.
I met Emma just over 20 years ago when we, along with others, were participating in the volunteer programme at Glasgow Rape Crisis. A few years later when rape crisis was going through a strategical change the volunteers had to call on the sisters for help. When it came to setting up the board we wanted the best and the first person we called on was Emma. She was quick to say yes and rape crisis benefitted from her knowledge, her vision, her wit and her patience.
We again worked together on the board of Rape Crisis Scotland where again her knowledge and insight was invaluable
Emma had all the qualities already mentioned and more. She was the loveliest poshest person I have ever met and she will be sorely missed.
Emma always had a way with words that was powerful and clear yet always struck me as mischievous too. She was a hell-raiser in the absolutely best sense of the word, profoundly knowledgeable about pretty much everything and committed to using that knowledge for change. She knew how to make things happen, and when she was in the room it always felt like things *would* happen, that change was possible. She had such presence, charisma and, of course, impeccable style. Oh Emma, it feels so so wrong to write in the past tense. You will be so so missed by so many.
Thank you xxx
Much love to all at Engender, to Kenny and Emma's family and friends...... I want to send my condolences, but it seems like such a formal and colourless word which doesn't fit Emma at all and just brings home how wrong this news is. You are in my thoughts xxx
I have only known Emma for the past 6 months as we worked on a project together. I was so impressed by her warmth, knowledge, kindness and ability to include everyone and be so welcoming. She had that unique ability to bring out the best in others. I am so deeply saddened about what happened. It is such a loss for everyone who knew her and for all those who didn't but benefitted from the important role she has played in striving to make society better. We will all continue to be inspired by what Emma has taught us.
We were deeply saddened and shocked by the loss of Emma.
Emma was a long-term supporter, member, and champion of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, using her influence to progress gender analysis in economic policy making. Emma worked to champion the role of gender budgeting both in Scotland and across European networks.
The passion, energy and insight Emma brought to the feminist movement in Scotland was incredible, making Scotland a better place for women and girls. Emma was an inspiration to the movement and force of nature driving forward equality. We will miss her.
SWBG send our love and support to Emma’s family and friends, and our sisters at Engender.
I am deeply saddened to hear this shocking news. I have had the pleasure of hearing Emma speak with clarity, passion and brilliance at many meetings in relation to our work on the Women's Health plan . My thoughts are with her family at this hard time,
I am so shocked and saddened to hear about Emma's passing. I met Emma through her work at EHRC but I knew all about her work before we met so was slightly star struck when she spun round in her chair at our office to introduce herself. She was so warm and friendly to me, and to everyone. She made such an impact through her work but also through her infectious cheer. She will be greatly missed. With much love to her family and friends, Lindsey.
I’m not often lost for words. I’ve started writing this so many times over the last while. Emma will live on in my mind for evermore. Her huge heart, that giggling chuckle, so super stylish, that galaxy brain, her astonishing ability to be so darned informed on everything, honestly everything. Her unshakable yet such humble confidence. Those gentle nudges to keep me right or think about something from another perspective.
I loved the times we shared in Barrington Halls with you, Emma and Kenny. You made our wonderful home so much more wonderful. Rest in Power, dear Emma.
We love you Kenny. P&J Murray Fulton
I got to know Emma when we were both members of the the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls. Her acute intelligence, highly informed feminism and considerable insights made her contribution to the work of the Council outstanding. I always enjoyed her wry wit and arch delivery. She was an unusual and interesting woman and as soon as I was asked lead a working group to look at misogyny and criminal justice, I sought Emma out to join us, knowing she would bring wisdom and critical thinking to our endeavours. As a result I have spent quite a lot of zoom time with Emma this year and she proved a greatly admired participant in the group. The news of her death was utterly shocking. I still find it hard to believe that such a powerful force for good has been lost to us all so suddenly. Emma’s legacy is huge. She advanced the cause of women’s equality and brought humanity to all her work. With sadness, I salute a great public servant who was a truly great human being.
Baroness Helena Kennedy Qc
I met Emma at my first Engender Meeting a few years ago. She was so welcoming and so helpful. I was impressed by her vast knowledge of Equality Policies etc and found her easy to talk to about so many things. She made time for everyone and never made you feel stupid about asking her things that others might deem silly or something you 'ought' to know.
Her ability to listen and inform was such an asset to the group and she will be sorely missed by so many of us. She had a great personality and was able to communicate on so many different levels and I was just so shocked when I heard she had suddenly died, she was so full of life! Her work for the women's Movement was insightful and so many of us were inspired by her.
My heartfelt condolences go to her husband Kenny and all her family and friends at this very sad time. The Engender Group were so lucky to have her and I know they will feel her loss more than most.
Emma was an incredible and supportive person to us at WEN Wales and will be very much missed. When I started at WEN Wales in 2017 she helped me so much giving her time and advice on many things - she has been such a guide and support.
Her knowledge on CEDAW (which she had to go through with me several times!) was brilliant, as was her guidance in Brussels at the European Women's Lobby General Assembly each year. I honestly cannot believe she won't be there at the next one to guide us.
Her legacy will live on and as you have so rightly said at Engender, we honour her legacy by continuing the fight to create a UK free from gender discrimination.
Emma - Rest in Power.
Like many others (I now know), Emma was my go too when my tiredness, my lack of confidence, my lack of knowledge and understanding… got in the way of maintaining the optimism and determination she demanded from us all in this work. How Emma led and nurtured us all at the same time remains a mystery to me. I am so, so sad that Emma didn’t have the time on this planet to fulfil what her skill, talent, compassion, humour and brilliance was investing in Scotland’s equality goals and future. Style Queen, giggler, power house, change maker, challenger and sister. What an extraordinary woman. I’m so glad I knew and worked with you and so lucky to have learned from you. I send all my thoughts and condolences to Emma’s family and friends and colleagues. Without doubt Emma we will honour you with action and progress X
Thank you for everything Emma I am sorry you have gone and I am sending much love and hugs to Kenny xx
I didn't know Emma personally for very long, we had only recently become FB friends but I knew her impact on feminism and I was thrilled when she spoke at the Women for Independence AGM a couple of years ago. I was rocked to the core by the news of her passing and my heart goes out to all who knew and loved her so much. What an outpouring of grief. I hope she knew how much she was loved and respected and that she knew the extent to which she was an inspiration to so many women of all ages.
'Speak your truth even though your voice shakes.'
Her legacy will be to inspire us to be better women, better sisters and inclusive ones at that.
Rest in power, Emma. With infinite love and gratitude ❤
Having cast an eye over the many warm and personal messages already posted here about Emma, I am sure there is nothing I can add other than to include my voice among those many others. I had the privilege to cross professional paths with Emma many times over the years. Most notably when we were both on the Scottish Government occupational segregation cross-government group. When we met or were at the same events, we talked data, Scottish politics and most importantly handbags. She was always stylish, sharp witted, and had a keen eye for doing the right thing - even when all those around her were way off from that mark. She gently nudged me when I lost my way and she showed solidarity when I was on track. An exceptional contributor to the feminist movement in Scotland. Hard to imagine how anyone could fill the gap she has left. Nor should they try. Love and condolences to Emma's family, Kenny and many close friends.
My condolences to Kenny and all of Emma's family, friends and colleagues.
I knew Emma through her work and I was always struck by the time she had for everyone. I wouldn't claim to be a personal friend but she always made me feel like a friend with her thoughtfulness and her kindness.
When we came into contact in person or online, she made me feel my contributions were worthwhile and important. I think she knew I had a case of imposter syndrome!
I admired her amazing work so much and am thankful for all she did for all women.
A beautiful lady who I saw at engender events. I was lucky to have captured a selfie with Emma at an event and little did I know this would never happen again and I would never see her again. May Emma rest in peace. Thoughts and prayers and may the families loss be bearable, during these difficult times. Ameen.
I had the privilege to work closely with Emma over the past few years. Most recently, last month we attended (virtually) a European event scenario planning potential global futures - as ever, she was clear and sharp to pull up the organisers that women’s equality and rights must be at the heart of thinking and that differential impacts recognised and addressed. She did this in every space she occupied over the years and Scotland (and the wider world) is better for it.
My main memories of Emma are her prodigious ability, constructive challenge, warmth, humour (I completely agree with the reference to strategically placed eyebrows) and just what an absolute Titan of the feminist movement she was. My thoughts are with everyone who loved and appreciated her.
My condolences to Emma’s family, friends and team at Engender.
I worked with Emma over the past few years and, like everyone, knew who she was before that. I was always in awe by the depth of her knowledge and felt a sense of ease when I saw her at meetings because I knew we had the best minds at the table.
But beyond that, she was so authentically generous and went out of her way to make you feel welcome and included, either through encouraging you to make a point you thought was stupid or by sending a quick private message in a Zoom meeting to say hello. Things that seem small but have a huge impact. This is so heart-breaking and she will be missed.
Sending love x
I’m not often lost for words. But I have found it incredibly difficult to find words for what it means to lose Emma.
We were not close friends. We were ‘work pals’. I knew her for more than 20 years I think, since her days as a rape crisis volunteer, and later in her roles at CtG and Engender. I loved her thoughtfulness and her insight, her sense of fun and her wit. Her kindness. And I loved her brain. Her contribution to the work of the women’s movement in Scotland is immense. I am not sure how we are going to fill the space she leaves behind.
My heart goes out to her beloved Kenny, her family and her many friends.
I will miss her. But she leaves a shiny trail that we will see for many years to come.
(Yes Emma. I did just compare you to a snail. But a most STYLISH snail!)
Shocked, stunned and saddened by the loss of this amazing lady. Emma was a client of ours for years. I don't know for how long - she seemed to be around us forever.
We did not know the extent of her work and what she actually did - I think she enjoyed chatting to staff and a few hours of peace and contemplation when she visited us.
We knew that she was a smart intelligent person and that she had very extensive and valid opinions on everything.
I loved to chat to her about politics, fashion, social media and issues of the day - she was just fab.
Our staff were so shocked that she is gone, she had time for all of them and more importantly she listened to everyone.
She is a huge loss to family, friends and colleagues - we will all miss her.
Our deepest condolences to her family.
Members of the Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning were shocked and saddened to hear of Emma’s death. Many of us knew Emma professionally and personally prior to the establishment of the Taskforce, of which she was a prominent member. Her knowledge of gender equality, feminism and women’s rights was unutterably impressive and her input was hugely valuable, always nuanced, considered and articulate, as it was on all platforms. We were privileged to know her, and send our deepest condolences to her husband, family, friends and colleagues.
I was so sorry to hear of the sudden demise of Emma. I got to know Emma through the Social Renewal Advisory Board. Her passion for equalities, social justice and a more equal society was exemplary. We have all lost a great champion. Sending my sincere condolences to friends, family and colleagues.
When I first met Emma in 2017, I knew what an intelligent and passionate advocate she was for women’s rights and equalities. What I came to realise was that she was also incredibly kind and hugely supportive and I’ll always be so grateful for all the help and support she gave me. What a wonderful, wonderful woman she was.
ALLIANCE staff were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of our valued friend and colleague, Emma Ritch. Her passion, talent, drive, and unremitting willingness to aid others – no matter how little time she had available – have been discussed across multiple meetings; all with an overarching sense of collective mourning, and of having lost someone irreplaceable.
To write a tribute to someone whose work and personhood reached so many people is not easy; this will only ever be a partial representation of Emma’s influence and the respect in which she was held.
Within her time at Engender, dedicated to expanding women’s equality and human rights, Emma worked extensively with the ALLIANCE, helping us learn and aiding our work. She was a key influence on so many national initiatives, including the Women’s Health Group, the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, the Scottish Women’s Budget Group. More recently, she spoke with us and campaigned about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, and the need for gender-competent leadership to prevent the regression of women’s rights – outlining eloquently the need for change, and the unacceptable consequences of simply sticking with the status quo.
Emma’s death leaves a colossal loss for so many people, both personally and professionally. The ALLIANCE has hugely valued her work with us, across many years – and the good, the bad and the ugly of implementing change around women’s equality and human rights.
The impact of Emma’s legacy is as substantial as the loss so many people feel. Being Emma's friend and colleague made us want to strive more, do more, achieve more, and we are committed to continuing the fight for equality and justice in her honour.
A devastating loss - the messages here resonate so much with my memories of Emma - her sharp intelligence, wit and indeed challenge, always with honesty, and great warmth and compassion. I always really enjoyed meeting up with Emma - both the formal meetings and our more informal gatherings. I am grateful to have known and worked with her; her legacy will continue to shape and influence us all. My thoughts are very much with her colleagues, friends, and her family.
The death of Emma is very difficult to take in. I was shocked when reading this news. Emma was an inspiration. Her dedication and hard work in the fight for equality, social justice and a fairer world will not be forgotten. I am sure that her work will continue to inspire many in the years to come. I am sending my deepest sympathies to everyone at Engender, her close friends and family.
We at the MRC/CSO SPHSU were incredibly sad to hear of Emma's passing earlier this month. Under Emma's leadership, Engender have been crucial partners in supporting the impact of our women's health-related research, and the loss of the connections and guidance she was able to offer will be keenly felt. Emma was extremely generous with her time and knowledge, in a way that is quite uncommon, and that we always very much appreciated. Our condolences to her partner, loved ones, and her colleagues at Engender.
My deepest condolences to Emma's family, friends and colleagues.
It was a privilege to work with Emma on various areas of policy and to learn from her thoughtful, insightful and passionate feminism. She will be greatly missed.
So sorry to hear this. Emma will be so missed by friends and colleagues. She has had a profound effect on promoting women's rights and equality through her work with Engender.
My deepest sympathies to her family and friends.
I was very sorry to hear this news.
I left Scotland some time ago, but I have very fond memories of long discussions late into the night at various STUC Congresses and other union meetings.
I learnt a huge amount from Emma about the practical applications of gender politics in institutions and organisations. It informs my current work in an international union, which has a big emphasis on promoting women's participation in structures and positions of power.
Rest in Power.
I only met Emma a few times but was struck by how clever, funny and hardworking she was. She seemed to have the wisdom and knowledge of someone twice her age, and to be both a thinker and a doer.
As a woman and a feminist I am immensely grateful for her contributions to gender equality in Scotland, for her leadership and her bravery.
Sending much love and strength to her family, friends and colleagues at Engender xxx
Edinwfi held its regular monthly zoom meeting 17th July. Those of us present wanted to mark Emma’s sudden, unexpected death with reverence whilst acknowledging her many facets, not least her dedicated professionalism as she furthered women’s equalities and rights.
That Emma embodied passionate feminism was clear for all to see, and now so very sadly missed.
Our condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
UCU Scotland extends our love and solidarity to all of Emma's friends, family and colleagues who are facing a devastating loss. Emma worked closely with the trade union movement to advance the cause of gender equality in Scotland, and her work will be continued by all those who followed her light and leadership to create a fairer Scotland for women
Emma was a guiding light to all those striving for meaningful equality for women and girls. Her powerful insight encouraged the critical thinking and considered action needed to drive effective change. Emma was a supportive friend to us in Local Government, and to many others besides. Both strong and kind, Emma made a remarkable contribution to our work to do better, to be better, for which we will always be grateful.
I feel very lucky to have worked with and known Emma. I'll always be inspired by her intelligence, wit, kindness and commitment; even before this tragic loss, I often tried to wonder "what would Emma do?" when working on policy relating to violence against women.
I'm sorry we'll never bump into one another again or catch up over coffee to explore the pros and cons of some nerdy policy question. I'll miss that sharp sense of humour and hope to have learned from Emma's complete professional integrity.
Above all, I'll always be grateful to have been in Emma's company and be inspired by the lasting impact Emma made on so many people's lives.
Rest in power.
Love to all those close to Emma xxx
Emma contributed to policy that made a major difference to women’s lives. Her work and contribution was far from over and has left a big gap in the feminist movement condolences to family, friends and colleagues.
I met Emma many years ago, she approached me at the zero tolerance awards to admire my stripy tights, we hit it off famously. Later she would gently urge me to join the engender board & was an amazing love & support to me on my time on the board, she loved my air hostess tales. I called her Madeline as a nickname as she reminded me of the little girl in the Parisian comic strip, this tickled her immensely. Apparently I wasn’t the first to make this comparison.
Emma knew I was embarrassed at my lack of formal education & she built me up & made me feel worthy whilst delighting as I read more and more, she literally made me a better feminist & she was thrilled as my confidence grew & gently nudged me to keep learning. She delighted as my questions for her grew, never tiring of answering patiently. In many many years to come, I promise I will still stop and think, “what would Emma do” & try my best to honour her legacy of sisterhood.
We regularly had tea & cake in paperchase - our joint spiritual home , halted by covid of course but we met by zoom instead, emma always made time, always. We most recently caught up by zoom & she was keen to learn a little crochet I had been doing and we were plotting arrangements to make that happen, that was the last time I seen her lovely face & we laughed & gossiped & compared stationery finds.
I will remember her tangerines & tea & her lovely smile, her sharp wit, superior intelligence & sunny warmth. I’m so very glad I took the time to tell her what she meant to me relatively recently & the courage she had imbued in me. She of course gave that wry grin & told me I had always been that person. That was Emma.
I will miss her so very much. She is irreplaceable both as a scottish feminist of the greatest import and importantly as as a friend.
Shine on you amazing lady
Emma, my goodness you knew how to shake the world so the right people would listen.
You were one of the first people I met when I arrived in Scotland just over 3 years ago at an interview for the Rape Crisis Scotland board. You were kind, open and fierce and I was immediately excited to be part of something. I decided to Google you after I left, and was so grateful I hadn't done that before the interview because, wow, what a woman! I think my nerves might have gotten the better of me if I knew your success before I met you. The not knowing let me meet you as the woman you were... Someone who encouraged each of us to be ourselves, without apology.
Every board meeting was chaired with such calmness and clarity while I wondered 'how have I ended up here with these incredible women?' but just as my doubts started overwhelming me Emma would ask, 'Katy, what do you think?'
Just a few weeks ago Emma shared our Trustee Recruitment for Kairos Women+ and offered her support with our governance—always giving her precious time freely to anyone who might need it, especially those at the beginning.
Emma, you changed the world, leaving behind a legacy of greater equality and clearing a path that we can all follow. I know you will continue to be a shining light in our lives. Sending all my love and more to your family and friends.
A week on I still can’t believe that we’re writing memorial posts about Emma. It just isn’t sinking in that she’s really gone and I still don’t know what we’ll do without her.
I had the pleasure of working with Emma for three years at NACWG. She might not yet have considered me a friend, but we were sisters in feminism (as we all are writing here), and the impact she had on me as a young feminist can’t be overstated. Emma took me seriously from the start, and always found time to check in with me, encourage me, praise me and challenge me. I hugely admire her expertise - I regularly refer to her to my friends as ‘Queen Emma, Fountain of All Knowledge.’ She always applied her immense expertise with wit, grace and kindness, never making anyone feel inferior but equally trusting herself, her knowledge and her right to be there completely. I remember turning to her regularly and asking why a particular piece of policy was so daft, and her answer was invariably a smile and the word ‘patriarchy’ (followed by much more detail based on years of reading, naturally).
Emma was incredible at caring in the small moments. There are so many tiny interactions that I bet she thought nothing of which have really stuck with me: when she told me the question I’d asked was really good and helped everyone find the answer we’d all been working towards; when she told me switching my degree to Sociology sounded like a good idea; when she asked me if I was okay when I arrived at a meeting feeling flustered; when she flipped my phone over so the First Minister wouldn’t judge me for having it switched on in a meeting; when she told me that she once forgot to turn up to a meeting with someone *super important* in her early career when I felt bad about being late; when she admired my reading spread in my bullet journal. More than that I learnt so much from just watching her lead, listening to her talk, seeing how she interacted with people. I hope Emma knew how much I appreciated her, but I’m devastated to not be able to keep learning from her and keep forming what I hope would have been a great relationship. There are so many questions I have left to ask.
It’s so sad for all of us that Emma’s skills and knowledge die with her - she absolutely wasn’t finished yet. She has left such an incredible legacy, making real changes in Scotland, both within the organisations she was part of and affecting wider policy change to make things better for women and girls. More than that, though, she’s left behind an army of us who admire her and have learnt from her. I think she’d want us to keep fighting, sisters, so maybe that’s how we try to reconcile this and honour her memory.
This week has been so hard for those of us who worked with Emma even a little bit, so I can’t even begin to imagine what her loved ones are going through. I’m sending all of you my solidarity and love.
Thank you Emma, for everything.
I've been trying to come up with the right words for this and I just can't seem to find them. I loved working with Emma and during my time on the Engender board used to get to meetings early just for a natter and a catch up. I benefitted so much from these chats - and as a very inexperienced board member Emma helped put me at ease and built my confidence.
I was always in awe of Emma - she was so smart and had the best organisational skills of anyone I've ever met, but she was also funny, kind and generous. Emma made me a better feminist and I wish I'd taken the time to tell her that.
Sending love to her family, friends and sisters at Engender.
What a terrible loss to.this world. An extraordinary woman, with a wonderful mind. Compassionate, caring, thoughtful and very very clever, witty and insightful. She was greatly admired and will be missed terribly.
Emma was on the Board of Engender when I was ED and then took over from me when I left, and what a fantastic job she did. Just as she did at Close the Gap.
She loved her Maserati, her cute handbags, her Biba look and roller derby....what a complex beautiful person she was ...but most of all she was a force for good.
Like so many others, we at Mental Health Foundation Scotland were shocked and saddened to hear of Emma’s passing. Emma was an inspiration to all of us fighting inequality. Scotland has lost a leader and a friend, but her legacy will be long lasting.
Our heartfelt condolences to Emma’s husband, family, friends and colleagues. We hope that these messages about the immense positive impact Emma had on the world will bring you comfort.
Our paths crossed almost 10 years ago, before you became the Director of Engender. We first met and continued to meet in Brussels over the years. Our first encounter was on the issue of equal pay, and today we still talking about it. Every sentence I write today on equal pay reminds me of you….what advice would Emma give?
You then joined the EWL Feminist Economics working group and the Gender Budgeting Expert group. I could always count on you. You were my ally, you gave me so much support over the years, for which I will be forever grateful. Your love of Europe, our conversations on the run-up to and the subsequent outcome of Brexit; your visionary plans for a feminist future for Scotland. Our late night talks and your stories of your trips to New Zealand. I miss you very much.
Thank you Emma for everything.
My deepest condolences to your husband, family, friends and colleagues.
My dear Emma, until we meet again, rest in power and in peace.
I've been devastated by the news of Emma's passing. All week as the expressions of her strength of character, fierce intelligence, kindness and sense of humour have come through on social media, I have been thinking about all of the times I've worked with Emma and her team of wonderful colleagues at Engender. I first met Emma when she was the one woman band at Close the Gap, back in 2011 I think - I remember hoping I would meet her again and I was lucky to get a job in which I would. I could never have imagined she would not be here.
Emma was incredibly generous with her time, always patient to explain. She promoted partnership work with Inclusion Scotland due to her absolute commitment to equality and recognition that women have multiple intersecting identities and human rights to be progressed. It has always been a total pleasure to be in her presence or involved in any work that Emma was involved in. I shall miss her.
Emma's death is a great loss to women's rights in Scotland. I just hope her legacy will be upheld.
I’m shocked and saddened by this awful news. I only met Emma a few times through the Social Renewal Advisory Board but I was immediately struck by her fierce intelligence and inspiring passion. I learned a lot from her even through these all too brief encounters. She clearly touched many people’s lives and I’ve no doubt she’ll leave a powerful legacy. My heart goes out to her all her family and friends.
Emma is someone I deeply admired. Although we only met in person a couple of times, her work has left an indelible mark on me and shaped my thinking and practice. Emma was uncompromising in her pursuit of feminist policy objectives, from which many of us across Scotland and beyond draw inspiration and courage. I have deep respect and gratitude for her intersectional praxis, leadership and allyship across interconnected feminist, LGBTQ+, disabled, classed, and BAME/anti-racist struggles. Sending love to her loved ones and colleagues at this extraordinarily difficult time. Thank you Emma.
My thoughts and deepest condolences to Kenny, Emma’s family, friends and her amazing team at Engender. It feels so sad to think of a world with no Emma in it. She was a vibrant and brilliant presence, a wonderful colleague and collaborator with a brain the size of a planet, a kind and considerate friend. She lived her life true to her feminist beliefs - both through her brave and tireless work but also through her endless compassion, acts of kindness and support for other women. Always cool and full of grace whatever pressures she was facing. Her legacy is huge and those of us left behind will work hard to honour her memory and to carry forward what she taught us by example about caring for each other and the ties that bind us through our sisterhood. I will never forget her.
Emma was awe inspiring. Her intelligence and leadership were matched by her kindness and warmth.
This is a heart breaking loss to so many people. Much love to Emma's husband, family, friends and colleagues.
Emma was not only an incredible feminist, trade unionist, and policy galaxy brain, she was a constant support and mentor to so many women. She has left a huge hole in Scottish civil society, the women's movement and in my life.
I don't know what I would have done without her over the last few years, and don't know what I'll do without her now. We used to have "wine and whine" sessions IRL and then on Zoom over the last year, and it was always me whining and never her. Even now, feeling devastated at her death, I can hear her voice in my head sympathising, saying the right thing, but ultimately giving me a delicate boot up the arse.
The contribution Emma made was astounding and there was still so much more that she wanted to and would have contributed. But I've also lost a dear friend, I will miss you so very much.
Thank you Emma for being a vibrant, determined force for positive change on the Social Renewal Advisory Board and so many other networks over and above the core work of Engender. I doubt there are adequate words to express the sense of loss and profound disbelief. Sending love to your family, friends, colleagues and allies in Scotland and far beyond. In sincere admiration for all you have achieved and in support for all who will carry on your work.
I feel so sad at this news. Emma understood the meaning of sisterhood. She was a strong ally and collaborator and I was pleased that while I was at Fawcett our organisations were able to work together and support each other's work. She knew her stuff and was influential, principled and savvy. She was someone whose view I was always interested in hearing and did a huge amount to improve women's lives.
My deepest sympathies to Emma's family, friends and colleagues. X
I am deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of Emma. As Director of Interfaith Scotland I have had the privilege of working with Emma over a number of years, most recently on the Social Renewal Advisory Board. Emma was wonderful to work with, her intelligence, warm personality and dedication made her truly inspirational to all who met her.
On a very personal note her absolute commitment to realising women's equality and rights was also deeply appreciated by my faith community, Baha'i, who hold the principal of women's equality and human rights as so fundamental to a fair, just and inclusive world.
Emma has contributed immensely to Scotland she will be missed, and our heart felt condolences go to her family and friends and work colleagues - kind regards Maureen
My deepest condolences to Emma's family, friends and colleagues. I only worked with her this past year for the first time but was deeply impressed by her. I had hoped our paths would continue to cross and I could work with her again. What a loss to everyone. Sending love to everyone. x
It's a shocking and great loss for feminist movement in Scotland.Emma had been part of women movement for decades. First time I met her in 2015 when I served as one of the board member of Engender Scotland.It was an easy job because of Emma's organizational skills combined with erudite.Emma was ready to help and open for discussion.My last communication was a clear example when I reminded her that Engender should participate in COP26 process to ensure the gender lens is incorporated and to include feminist analysis on climate change issues.Emma agreed Engender should participate on Edinburgh council public consultation on COP26.Emma understand well the importance of collaborative work and had this tenacity to follow up and delivered the works.She also believes in solidarity and keep the flame,the spark.
My condolences to Emma's partner, family, friends and colleagues.Rest In Peace Emma,no more pain.
La luta continua.
Thank you Emma for being so generous with your time and insight and supporting me when I first joined Engender's board in 2010. It was incredible to watch Engender's transformation under your leadership and to learn so much from you. Your contribution to women's liberation in Scotland is incredible and I feel privileged to have been able to learn from you. Sending lots of love to everyone whose hearts are hurting xx
Emma. This sounds like a shallow thing to say in light of all your many fantastic achievements but, I always thought you were just so impressive and really fucking cool. I wish I had told you.
Love to everyone who is missing you. This is a massive loss.
So sad to hear about Emma, I had the privilege to work with Emma, her intelligence, wit and dedication to womens rights was inspirational. My thoughts go out to Emma's family and friends, she will be truly missed xx
My thoughts are with Kenny, Emma's family, friends and wider network at this terribly sad time.
I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news. We will all feel the loss of such a vital and significant woman.
Emma and i recently were talking as i moved on, reminiscing about our first meeting many years ago and how we had a mutual love of red lipstick, statement jewellery and red hair.
Many sectors and organisations will have a huge gap in their understanding and drive forward, many others will have a gap and loss in their personal lives.
Emma can never be replaced but her light and marks on the world will remain.
It is so hard to make sense of someone like Emma leaving in this untimely way. Although I only knew Emma professionally I have always admired her clarity of thought, the passion she dedicated to women's equality, and her ability to keep focussing on what matters. I had just started a piece of work with Engender and was so enjoying working more closely with her. She felt like such an important pillar of our feminist movement in Scotland so hard to see how we will manage to keep going without her. But we will take her spirit and keep moving forward. Condolences to all her colleagues, friends and family. We are all thinking of you.
At the UK Women’s Budget Group, we had the privilege of working with Emma on a number of projects, including polling on the impact of Covid on women and the Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy. When Emma met with the members of the Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy in Glasgow in November 2019, we were struck by her eloquence, her extensive knowledge of a vast range of policy issues, and above all, her drive and determination to create a just world. In particular, we remember her determination to implement a truly intersectional way of working across the sector, and not to let Scotland off the hook in four-nations work by giving too much prominence to the many things that are done better in Scotland than in England, as this would undermine the advocacy efforts of Scottish organisations. It was an honour to learn from Emma and her loss will be felt deeply by all those working for gender equality, a cause she was so passionate about and to which she contributed so much. We will continue our work inspired by Emma.
I am writing this remembrance of Emma without yet comprehending that she is no longer here. My heartfelt condolences to Kenny and Emma’s family, the close and fabulous team at Engender, and all the other friends and colleagues grieving this immense loss.
Emma has been part of my feminist policy life for many, many years through the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, Engender, Close the Gap, and most recently the Social Renewal Advisory Board and in many other places – some of them enjoyably social too. Emma’s presence and contribution to gender equality, human rights, and social justice policy in Scotland and internationally is incalculable. At times it seemed that she was omni-present. On occasion that made me wonder how she could sustain such a high level of intellectually acute, clear-sighted advocacy, and focus on progress across so many issues. Emma’s capacity for analysis and clearly hard work were immense. That level of engagement, however, does not come without effort and at some personal cost. So while we rightly remember the wit and style of Emma Ritch, her stupendous vocabulary (I had to look up what nugatory meant every time she used it! I know it absolutely does not apply to Emma who was of significant value and importance); her passion for equality and ‘easy-peelers’ satsumas; her vibrant mind – and hair colour; her love of quality stationery and a good political story; and all the other ways – personal and professional – we will remember Emma, we must commit to ensuring her legacy is of collective and sisterly endeavour to make Scotland the inclusive, just, and equal place Emma worked so hard for it to be.
This is such a sad and shocking loss, I never knew Emma personally, but I admired her from afar at so many events and conferences over the years. I was really looking forward to the day our paths would cross and we would work together, I felt sure it would. On hearing this news it struck me that there must be so many like me, particularly women, who have admired Emma from afar, looked up to her, respected so deeply what she was doing and were so glad an Emma Ritch existed in Scotland's third sector and the world. It's really sad to think she perhaps never got the chance to see how much we all admired her, even people she didn't know. Sending so much love and condolences to all her family and friends and everyone at Engender at this heartbreaking time.
My deepest and heartfelt condolences to all of Emma's family, friends and all who loved and were touched by her life.
For the life changing , life saving Warrior that was You, thank you dear Emma from the bottom of my heart for the help that you gave shining light in my darkness.
I will keep your words close and I will miss you forever. My last words to you, written here through these tears, but wherever you are, I truly hope that you hear them. Rest in Power my saviour. The fight will continue.
The loch's all ran dry in the tears that they shed over you.
Each Munro gestured a bow as you made your way through.
The mountains they crumbled to stone in despair,
Scottish White heather floats up into air,
The rolling green Glens into blue skies
Are crying for you.
A youngster has dreams in their mind of a life they can choose.
With visions of lines not defined or predestined to loose.
For each step they take they will carry their worth,
Through the words that you spoke and the fire you unearthed,
In the chests of the future our children
They are crying for you.
A circle of sisterhood howls like lost wolves in the night.
For no matter how small they grew tall from your wisdom and light.
As they stand together and never apart,
Link arms in the outpouring grief from their hearts,
They walk with that beacon you shone
Whilst there crying for you.
A nation lays mourning in colours of red shaded hair,
In each faraway corner a strand of yourself given there,
Weaving those paths with a message to rise,
Where rights and equality is the only prize,
The strength of ye woman with your glassed fronted eyes,,,yes
This nation is crying for you.
A loch will run dry in the tears that I've cried over you.
For kindness, compassion and courage are all that I knew.
I am hearing your voice I will hold your words dear,
I will climb to the heights regardless of fear,
For with you in my heart I can rise anywhere,
But for now,
I am crying for you.
All my Love,
This is truly devastating news and there are no words that can adequately pay tribute to Emma at this time.
Emma dedicated her career to equality and women's rights in Scotland and this will be her legacy .
Emma worked closely with colleagues across Scottish Local Government on these issues and I would like to offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Emma was the first person I interviewed in Scotland when I went from Spain to do my research on the women's movement. I will never forget her kindness and intelligence.
She will be deeply missed <3
The NACWG were so deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of our friend and Advisory Council member, Emma Ritch. Emma was so instrumental to the first phase work of the Advisory Council and her passion for feminism and social justice, along with her forensic wealth of knowledge on women’s rights, played a significant part in the package of transformational systemic change we recommended for women and girls in Scotland. Every single one of us learned a huge amount from Emma - her dedication and leadership shone brightly, she wore her intellect lightly and always used it to enrich and improve the quality of our debates. She always conducted herself with warm professionalism, balanced with wit, compassion, generosity of spirit and kindness. She was an incredible human being, her energy and drive opened doors and ensured the vital messages about the day to day experiences of women and girls across Scotland was heard. We are immensely proud to have known her and worked with her – and are in no doubt that each of us is a better person for having known her. It is likely impossible to quantify just how important her contribution has been to the women’s movement and furthering of women’s rights in Scotland and beyond. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, colleagues and all who love her. We will all miss her in so many ways – but are endlessly thankful for her lifeforce and inspiration, which we will invoke to spur us on and continue her work.
In sisterhood - members of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls
So sorry to hear about Emma, it is a real shock and difficult to process. Sending my condolences to her family and friends. She was a force of nature and will be greatly missed.
I was always in awe of Emma. She was one of the brightest people I knew. She Was funny, articulate and wore fabulous clothes. When she spoke to a roomful of people, she had their full undivided attention. Emma’s contribution to the women’s sector is invaluable because it will continue to grow beyond her life and our lives. And as I write, I still can’t believe that she has gone.
Agnes Tolmie, Chair of the Scottish Women’s Convention was shocked and saddened by the sad news of the passing of Emma Ritchie.
I have known Emma for a number of years and shared platforms, conferences and rallies with Emma. All with the purpose of the advancement of women in Scotland. Emma was well respected for her honesty as well as her particular sense of humour! She will be sadly missed.
On behalf of the Staff and Board members of the Scottish Women’s Convention, we send her partner, friends and family our sincere condolences.
Emma was a courageous and inspiring feminist who used her intelligence and political acuity to create meaningful change. This is a terrible loss to all those who knew her, and also to the further progress on women’s rights she would no doubt have driven. She leaves a legacy of real and positive improvements in women’s lives. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
News of Emma's passing has come as a terrible and devastating shock to the team past and present here at Fawcett, many of whom have worked with Emma over the years and knew her to be warm, kind, and incredibly dedicated to the cause.
She embodied the solidarity and passion that is so desperately needed in the women's sector and she will be deeply missed.
Sending love to her family, friends and co-workers from the team at Fawcett.
I'm very lucky to have worked with and learned from Emma over the years, on all things Brexit-related, CEDAW incorporation, gender mainstreaming, PSED, gender pay gap and economic recovery. She truly has been, and will remain, a beacon for women and girls' rights and equality. Thinking of Emma's family and everyone at Engender during this inimaginably sad time and sending love. I have no doubt that Emma's legacy will continue and her empowering of others to be women's rights defenders will make for a more equal world for our children to grow up in. Thanks Emma, rest in power <3 x
What a devastating loss which still feels very hard to take in. Emma was a powerhouse of a woman, so sharply intelligent, with a clarity, commitment and determination that was relentless in her drive for change. A fierce advocate for equality, with the belief and passion she could, and did, make our world a better and more just place.
Looking at her involvement in so many groups and work areas in both her work and volunteer time it was hard to fathom how she fitted it all in. And that she did it with such humour, with an impish grin, a set of eyebrows that were a joy to watch at meetings when her less than poker face gave away her views, her love of a beautiful pencil case, and her endless style, immaculate fringe, and love of colourful coordination. She will be so sorely missed by many, both personally and professionally and am thinking of those who she loved and loved her.
I first met Emma as a young student at Glasgow Uni, even then she was the one who seemed to have life sorted, while the rest of us meandered aimlessly from term to term!! She was a gifted scholar and the most generous of friends, always there for us with wise words and a cup of tea! An inspiration to all women, a leader, a pioneer and wonderful human! Rest in peace dear friend, we hold your memory precious in our hearts.
So sad and shocked to hear of Emma’s death. Deepest condolences to her family , friends and colleagues. Rest in peace Sister 💚🤍💜
We are shocked and saddened by the loss of our former Committee member Emma Ritch. A committed feminist and the Executive Director of Engender, Emma’s life was dedicated to advancing the cause of women and girls.
During her term on our Scotland Committee from 2015 to 2019, Emma brought her sharp policy analysis and passionate advocacy for women and girls to our work. We know that we are just one of many organisations whose work was strengthened thanks to Emma’s generosity with her time and talent.
Emma was our colleague, but she was also a great friend to many of us here at the Commission. She was a leading light in Scotland’s women’s movement and has made a substantial contribution to ensuring Scotland and the wider world is a better place for women.
In the midst of our grief, our thoughts are with Emma’s family, friends and colleagues.
I met Emma once or twice she was very impressive. She has a huge reputation and is clearly loved and admired by so many. My sincere condolences to Emma’s family. She will be remembered with fondness. She has made her mark on the world.
I was shocked to hear of Emma’s sudden death. I worked with Emma when she began at Engender and I was the NAWO representative on the UK Joint Committee of Women - the body that is the UK-wide member of the European Women’s Lobby. My memory is that I was the representative for the UKJCW on EWL at that time.
Emma was a very strong and committed feminist and showed her leadership qualities early on. She wrote really well and was a good colleague. She is really a huge loss to Engender and to all of us in parallel sisterhood organisations.
I send my sincere condolences to her husband and to all of you who knew her really well and worked with her on a daily basis. I am so sorry for your loss.
I am so sad to say goodbye to Emma, a friend and colleague for 20 years. I will miss her wit, her marvellous intellect, her generosity and humour. I doubt my words can express how much we’ve lost. Sending much love to Kenny, to Emma’s family, friends and colleagues x
Emma was a wonderful person. We got to interview her last year for an assignment. She was very helpful and understanding, a brilliant and caring woman who shared her kindness and extensive knowledge with us, showing nothing but her best with a big smile. Her achievements are invaluable, and I am hugely grateful to have known such an amazing person.
My condolences to Emma’s family and friends, I am deeply sorry for your loss.
So very shocked to hear the sad news of Emma’s sudden death.
We both trained together as volunteers at the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre about 29 years ago. I was always impressed by her passion, care and commitment. I knew she was a force for good and change. She will be sorely missed.
What a huge shock that Emma has died so young. I was lucky enough to know and work with Emma for nearly 20 years. We became friends/peers in 2002 when we co-designed a schools pack on gender equality, when she was working for ‘Close the Gap’, and our careers then ran in parallel. As soon as I met her I was won over by her encyclopaedic knowledge of gender issues, her sense of humour, her love of a chat at the sidelines of a conference or event, her fabulous sense of style, and most of all, her passion for a better world in which the gap between policy rhetoric and the lives of real women was closed. Over the years we bonded over many things including feminism, good stationery (I will always think of Emma when I see a woman with an excellent pencil case), gin, the challenges of running small charities, being married to/parenting programming nerds (said with love - Emma was clearly utterly devoted to ‘the Kenster’), hating badly chaired meetings, and so many more things. Emma did do much so well, she was an absolutely stellar campaigner, and so clear-sighted about the scale of the challenge. My thoughts are with Kenny, her family, her friends, her co-workers. Bye Emma. I can’t believe we’ll never have a gossipy lunch again, that you’ll never be the dazzling keynote speaker at an event I attend. I wish I had said a much bigger, more meaningful thank you for all the advice you gave me, all the kindnesses, all the occasions you cheerfully gave your exceptionally-demanded time to yet another collaboration. Thank you Emma. You made a huge mark on the world and on me. I will miss you. Rest in peace. Sending love to those left behind.
Dear all at Engender, Emma's family and all of Emma's many friends
It is with incredible sadness I hear of the loss of Emma, such a wonderful, feisty, funny, incredibly brilliant woman. Such a loss to our field, someone we all implicitly trusted to keep the feminist fires burning on all angles (how did she do it?) which allowed some of us to focus down, something she acknowledged with a wry smile in our many warm conversations over many years, She was so generous with her time and intellect, in breaking new ground nationally, as a respected colleague and sister to so many but also in her work with our students - ever mentoring the next generation in the ongoing fight for gender equality.
Such a loss on every level, with my warm wishes to her family and many close friends for whom this must be awful. With thanks to Emma for being a transformative, passionate, feminist, fun, fabulous, lifeforce in her too short time with us.
I was so sorry to hear that Emma passed away, it is so very difficult to believe given her vibrancy. I worked with Emma on a number of projects, she was great fun and had an in depth knowledge of equality issues which made her the go to person. Her warmth and wit also made her good fun to be around. The rich legacy she leaves with her contribution to equality which will positively impact us all and future generations. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones who will feel her loss the greatest. We are all bereft by her passing and owe it to her memory to continue the work she so passionately believed in.
Emma was someone who really listened and thought and the world has too few of those. She will continue to be an inspiration.
I am so sorry to learn of Emma's untimely passing.
She was a sound feminist and took forward Engender's work with care, diligence and vision.
Emma was always helpful whenever I had to contact her (mainly on matters relating to Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)).
I send my condolences to her family and her colleagues and share my sadness with all Engender members.
I am still in disbelief that Emma has gone. She was such a vibrant, dedicated and consistant part of the feminist movement in Scotland and beyond - and she was the same as a feminist sister and friend. I am so deeply sad that we have lost her. She achieved brilliant things; tangible policy changes, inspiring others to be vocal, proud feminists, leading and developing projects that improved all women's lives. Her work will continue to make Scotland a better place, and we will build on that and continue to fight for women's and girls' rights. What a legacy.
But beyond that is the important place she held for me and many others personally. She made time for people, she had the challenging conversations that mattered and the nonsense, fun chats about nothing that also mattered. She had a mind and lexicon that I was in awe of, including knowing the Danish word for having lots of butter on your toast (which she explained to me over a breakfast catch up once and to point out my terrible dietary habits...).
I adored that she would message me the same thing minutes before I was about to message her...usually accompanied with the eyeroll emoji.
Emma, there is already so much I want to talk to you about, things that would make us angry, things that would make us laugh, things that would give us ideas about what we should work on next. I want to have all of these chats with you, and it genuinely hurts that I can't. Thank you for being excellent.
To her partner Kenny, her family, friends and the feminist sisterhood, I am so sorry for your loss, I hope these messages provide some comfort - all my love to you.
I was privileged to meet Emma several times and be involved in some events and activities with her. She was an inspirational woman who made everyone around her feel valued. What a great leader and human being she was, She will be sorely missed by anyone who ever met her or read her writing and by all women's organisations in Scotland.
My condolences to her family and her colleagues.
What I loved about my friend Emma was that she was a galaxy brain who could write, lead, discuss huge, critical issues of structural inequality, seeing different facets and intersections. I could write an essay or two about how Emma Ritch, feminist leader, is my North Star for my own equality activism.
But right now I want to share my main memory of how she revelled in the small joys of life.
Her baby nephew’s stripy socks. Showing me all the compartments - beautifully organised - in her new rucksack handbag as we drank gin in a park. A cheery wave and quick chat as we passed each other at Edinburgh Waverley or Glasgow Queen Street. Making my dear friend Dawn shine as host at her Scottish book launch. Propelling me in front of the First Minister for a selfie. Her self-appointment as President of the Starbuck the Cat Fan Club. Her witty, pithy replies to my tweets and Facebook posts.
I don’t have any great anecdotes or big adventures with Emma to share. I guess I hoped they would come later, post-baby, post-Covid… Later has now come, and all I can share are the little things that make a friendship real and treasured and unique.
I was lucky enough to meet with Emma during my time at the Scottish Human Rights Commission. She had a wonderful calming presence, an amazing intellect and was clearly driven to making the world a better place. A very inspirational lady, that leaves an incredible legacy for women and girls. What a difference she made to this world. What a loss. Thinking of her loved ones, all at Engender and all those she worked with.
I am still shocked and saddened at the news. Emma was an all-round brilliant human being who worked to make Scotland a better place. I only knew her professionally but her knowledge, passion and sense of humour meant she always stood out. I learned so much from her and I hope that she knew the impact she had. A huge loss for Scotland and I'm sending all my warmest wishes to Emma's loved ones.
I am shocked and saddened to hear of Emma's passing. When we both held roles at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, she was extremely kind and welcoming to me. In Scotland, there is no area of strategic or policy work related to women's rights she was not deeply involved in. She also worked in many voluntary roles to improve women's lives. How could one person achieve so much? I am lucky to have worked with her in a small way and I send my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues,
I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Emma. I knew her first through my work at the WEA Women at Work Project in the Highlands. Emma was an amazing woman who worked relentlessly for women’s rights. Emma’s leadership and support will be missed by many. Kind regards Cath Findlay
Quite simply Emma was one of the wittiest and intelligent people I ever met. Her work was inspirational and I don't think she ever realised how many people she positively impacted. Condolences at such a very very sad time.
We are devastated to hear of Emma’s passing. On behalf of the University of Edinburgh’s Gender Politics Research Group, we extend our condolences to Emma’s colleagues at Engender, her partner Kenny, and her family and friends.
Emma was a true force in the Scottish women’s movement – brilliant, incisive, determined, but always approaching her work with a glint of humour. Gender politics researchers at Edinburgh have worked with Engender since its inception – and it was always a delight to work with Emma on research projects, panels, and events. You knew if you saw your name next to hers that you were in good hands (and that you would have a good chat afterwards!). And she was unfailingly kind and generous with her time – giving advice, bringing people together, making connections – whether formally in policy spaces, or informally over a cuppa and cake (where she memorably let one of us – on maternity leave at the time – rant for an extended period about the reduction of buggy spaces on buses, then gave us reams of advice about how to get things done!). The big things that she did matter immensely, but it was also the little things – the note she’d send you, for example, in a private message during a formal Zoom meeting asking how your kids were.
It is hard to find the words to capture this loss – for those who loved her, and for the wider movement. Even speaking of Emma in the past tense seems an impossibility. Her legacy is immense – envisioning a different, and feminist, future for Scotland. The tributes that we have seen over the past several days reflect the far-reaching impact that she had on so many people, and their commitment to upholding her legacy and continuing to push for change.
We are grateful to have known her. Rest in power, Emma.
Meryl Kenny, Fiona Mackay and Claire Duncanson (on behalf of the University of Edinburgh’s Gender Politics Research Group)
I'm deeply saddened by Emma's death. She was so much more than a Third Sector colleague. She was an ally and a friend. A champion of social justice and all causes feminist she will be sorely missed in the coming years. She brought wisdom, wit and courage to everything she did and I think I am a better person for having known her. She made a huge contribution to everything she was involved in and Scottish public life has been greatly improved because of her efforts. I want to pay particular tribute to her participation in the Tackling Low Income Policy Circle of the Social Renewal Advisory Board where she ensured that feminist values were at the heart of all of our recommendations. My thoughts are with her partner, her family and her many, many friends. I will always associate Emma with the words of that great feminist hymn "Bread and Roses" as Emma's fight was for much more than better jobs and pay but a richer life for all women -
As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Small art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too
The greatest tribute that any of us can pay Emma is to take up her struggle.
Although I'd been an admirer of Emma's work for some time, because I'm a feminist in Scotland and she was so central to any progress made here, it was when I began being targeted for abuse and overwhelming harassment that I first spoke to her.
For the last few years, she would pop up in my DMs or email when I was under siege to offer solidarity, kindness, and support. We spoke in between, about policy and plans, but it was the back and forth, taking turns to support each other when the storms came, which I treasure most.
This work is hard and sometimes it feels hopeless, but despite how busy Emma was, she always had a moment to keep other women going, to hold us up and make us laugh and feel less alone.
I wish I'd known her in a personal capacity - she always seemed bitingly funny, smart and kind - but I'm grateful to have known her at all. This is such a huge loss to the work we still have to do, but she is woven through it and Scotland is better for her having been here.
I am not usually one for writing down my feelings anymore. But when I got the call to let me know of Emma’s death, there were too many thoughts and memories in my head swirling round and I knew that putting it into words was the only way I could begin to process my grief.
When I first met Emma, back in 2017, I was working at an event looking at Tackling Violence Against Women. I was very new to my job, I’d only been there for about 3 months and I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. I watched Emma stand up and talk about feminism, gender inequality, violence against women and girls and of course, her favourite topic, CEDAW and I was blown away by her confidence, her intellect and her passion.
I got the chance to speak to her before she left, and mid-conversation a man who had been attending the event interrupted us to explain how she was actually wrong about a number of her points, and he’d love to point her in the right direction. I will never forget the look that we shared in that moment when we realised that indeed, this was mansplaining 101 in action, and the laugh we shared when he walked away after she politely listened to his argument but said that she did not agree. Newly enthused about all things feminism, I became a member of Engender and started attending feminist events in Scotland. Fast forward a few months, and I joined the Young Women Lead programme. At this point, I started to realise that when it came to the women’s sector in Scotland, Emma was a *big deal*. When I started thinking about what I wanted my future to look like, I thought about Emma. You could say that meeting Emma was the catalyst that led me to where I am today.
I met Emma again a couple of times, including at Engender’s 25th birthday party in June 2018 at the Scottish Parliament. I was sitting front row and gave her my cheesiest grin before she went on to give her speech, which she later would thank me for as “reassuring and sisterly”. Shortly after, I moved to Linlithgow and we became occasional commute buddies, in the front carriage of the Glasgow – Edinburgh via Falkirk High train (the only chance of getting a seat if you get on in Linlithgow) and we would always take the time to catch up on everything that was happening in the sector, as she knew I was looking to get a job there, and share definitely not discussed in confidence gossip we both heard about the going-ons of the Scottish political sphere.
When I was nominated for 30 Under 30 at the end of 2018, Emma included me in her tweet of congratulations alongside some very wonderful women (Amanda Stanley, Katie Horsburgh, Brenna Jessie and Eve Livingston). To be included in the list at all was an honour, to be singled out by Emma made it all that bit more special for me. Emma was the first person in the sector outwith our organisation that I told about getting the job at YWCA. I met her on the train to work and couldn’t contain myself. I explained that I was going part-time and going to freelance on the side and she hinted that there may be some freelance work going with Engender soon so to give her my email to add to their list of contacts. I pitched for and happily ended up doing that freelance gig, working on data collection for Sex and Power 2020.
I realise that writing about how important someone was to you after they’ve passed is par for the course, but I am happy to say that I did actually tell Emma that she was my inspiration and my role model. I also told her that she is who I want to be when I grow up. To which she responded, I should aim higher.
In every piece of research and work I’ve done since starting in this sector, young women have told us that they desperately need more role models. It’s not lost on me that I was so lucky to not only have one, in Emma, but also to have spent time with her. It is completely devastating to me that she will no longer slide into my DMs with an eye roll emoji at any current twitter discourse that relates to those definitely not shared in confidence gossip sessions in hushed tones on the train, or sending solidarity to one another during particularly tough days.
Over the next few days, we’re going to hear a lot about the impact Emma has had on professional spheres in Scotland; her dedication, her encyclopedic knowledge, her calm in the face of nonsense. But it’s important to me to share the personal effect that she has had on my life and my career. Despite the fact that she was completely in the wrong when it came to her opinions about Lord of the Rings, and honestly even in death I’m not sure I can forgive her, there is an Emma shaped void in my heart that cannot be filled. She inspired me to be true to myself and my values and not to settle for doing anything less than I am completely passionate about. That is her legacy to me. So thank you Emma. Thank you and I will miss you dreadfully.
I met Emma a handful of times, yet she occupied a permanent space within my life. Whether it was listening to her on podcasts or at events, thinking about advice she had given me in relation to my own activism, or the daily inspiration I take from the organisation that she led so fiercely, Emma Ritch has felt just as much a part of my daily life as the current book I have on the go or my go-to feminist playlist on Spotify I charge myself on during my evening walk. She was, and will forever be, iconic.
Just as there are so many women like me who felt Emma’s feminism and leadership in their own lives, I hope she felt the strength of all of us with her in everything she did.
My deepest condolences to Emma’s family, friends and colleagues.
Everyone at White Ribbon Scotland is shocked and saddened to hear of the death on Friday of Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender.
Emma’s dedication made her one of the most influential leaders of the cause of women’s equality and rights. Her approachable nature meant people were always greeted with a smile and her intelligence and insightfulness meant you always learned from her.
Without doubt Emma has improved the lives of women throughout Scotland.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to all Emma’s family, friends and colleagues.
I was lucky enough to work with Emma on two projects and will always remember her keen intelligence, integrity, graciousness, generosity and passion.
I will also remember Emma as someone to whom I immediately felt close because of her kindness and warmth.
I was so sorry to learn of her passing and I offer my sincere condolences to her close family and friends.
My condolences to all, Emma ritch you will be greatly missed. Rest in peace
So many sisters across Scotland and internationally are in shock, and mourning. Emma was fierce and inspirational in her defence of women's rights, and all of us who have heard her speak have been inspired. In private she was always willing to calmly and pleasantly discuss controversies and seek to build agreement and consensus. She always found time to talk about things.
A long-standing personal joke I had with Emma was my admiration for the musical 'Les Miserables', which she did not share. Whenever a male Scottish politician was being macho, we would share private messages joking about 'Red, the blood of angry men . ." (a line from the musical). It was just a silly and funny thing between us, but it was our thing.
We'll never get that post-lockdown drink together we were planning to put the world to rights. The world has lost not just a great public figure, but also a funny, friendly woman.
Thank you for your kindness, dedication and commitment. You were such a force for good and will be missed hugely by those of us who knew you professionally. My condolences to all those who loved you personally.
The loss of Emma is so significant for so many of us, she was and will remain an absolute beacon. I am sending my heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. Sadly, I never spent enough time in Emma's company, a regret I am feeling deeply. Emma was a feminist leader I aspired to be like; kind, funny, fearless and hugely knowledgable with an exemplary track record of change making. The extent to which we are missing her even those of us whose paths crossed with Emma's infrequently, is a measure of the impact she has made. Although I was always felt slightly awed in her presence and our relationship was a professional one she took care to make herself as approachable as possible, she was hugely generous with her time and support for me and other colleagues at the Library. She made an unforgettable, positive impression and an enormous lasting impact on the shape and health of feminism in Scotland. I am hoping that as a community we can feel this terrible loss but will commit to building on the legacy she has left us. I for one know I will be asking myself at so many critical moments when wisdom and courage is needed 'What would Emma do?'
Emma, you were a woman who held up the sky. You were a woman who made others feel hopeful, less alone, and more determined in their daily lives and fight for equality.
It meant so much to me when you dropped into my DMs when I was having a hard time, and we had a laugh about it; I know others did that for you too when you received backlash for your essential feminist work.
When our professional wolds orbited one another I looked at you with the greatest of admiration. I will take the strength, conviction, intelligence, sharpness, warmth and wit you demonstrated forward with me as eternal inspiration.
Thank you for all you did for Scottish women. Your time here was a gift to so many.
Emma was an absolute star, an amazing feminist and person, who helped, empowered and inspired so many with her kindness and dedication. I will always remember her enthusiasm, openness, compassion, and bringing together women of different ages and cultures to learn from each other and build friendships. Emma you will be so missed - we will carry on the fight for you and all other women. Sending so much love.
Incredibly sad news. My love and thoughts to all Emma’s family, friends and colleagues at this time. I had the absolute privilege of working with Emma on a few occasions, she was an amazing woman and will be a huge loss 💜💜
I have been friends with and worked alongside Emma for 20 years. She was one of the most unique women I’ve ever known - clever, funny, passionate and fearless. I will miss her immeasurably. I love you Emma and I will never forget what you have meant to both me and the rape crisis movement.
Emma's willingness to help out, to listen & engage, and look for common ground was remarkable. Her ability to speak across sectors, to bring people together, and to inspire togetherness was incredible. I had - and still have - huge respect for her, and for all she achieved. Her encouragement, and support for work where we have shared interests has been significant, perhaps more than she could ever know. It was a privilege to share a space with her.
Her loss is profound, and is even greater for the feminist movement. That said, she has a fantastic legacy, and has shaped Scotland for the better. I wish she could be here to experience her impact going forward, and to see how many benefit from the better world she worked so tirelessly to shape.
Condolences to all of her many friends & family.
Thank you, Emma. Rest in power and peace.
Dr Kim Barker, OULS
On Monday 12th July I, like many, heard of Emma's sudden death. The shock, disbelief and grief are palpable, numbing.
I have worked at Glasgow Women’s Library for a long time, and known Engender since their inception - our organisations set up around the same time in the early 1990s. I’ve also known Emma for a long time too, long before she became Engender’s Executive Director.
Whenever I attended events, conferences or meetings and saw Emma’s name on the list of speakers or attendees, I felt joy at knowing we would have a catch up and a laugh. Emma was my ‘go to’ woman when I needed professional advice or support. She wouldn’t hesitate to have a coffee with me or respond to DMs. When Glasgow Women’s Library first experienced a social media ‘pile-on’ it was Emma I turned to - sadly, she and Engender endure such things regularly and we were able to share our experiences and, I hope, give mutual support. She helped me to be able to handle these distressing situations, and support the team I work with to do the same. Only two weeks ago, Emma was the one I reached out to again for some advice on governance.
Emma loved and supported GWL, and it was always a joy to see her at our events. If my memory serves me right, she and a group of friends were champions at our last ‘Herland: The Redstockinged Women’s Quiz’ night. Happy memories.
Brilliant, witty, kind, generous and feminist to the core, there are not enough words to describe Emma, but the many public tributes show the love and respect people had for her.
Dear Emma Ritch, I hope you know what a difference you made to our lives, how you made Scotland a better place, how grateful we are to you, and how much we will miss you.
On behalf of our entire team at GWL, I am sending our thoughts, love and respect to Emma’s family, friends and colleagues.
Dearest Emma..how often do we regret the things we should have said, but didn’t? And now it’s too late..but I hope that you knew how much I admired and respected all that you were. I looked up to you, was in awe of your deep wisdom and fierce intellect. Your tenacity and humour. That you lived in a way which fully reflected your strong sense of injustice in an increasingly challenging world for women. Carers in Scotland have lost a fierce champion. We’ve lost the most wonderful person.
To Emma’s partner and family..I truly hope you can find some comfort and light from how much your Emma was loved and respected. Many thousands are thinking of you. Hold on tight to all of the love and memories.
Emma Ritch was a clever, kind, funny and passionate force for good in this world, and she will be deeply missed by all of us at Rape Crisis Scotland.
Emma’s involvement in the Rape Crisis movement in Scotland spans decades, having been a collective member of Glasgow Rape Crisis and then, later, a trustee. Having joined our Board in 2011, Emma has been a hugely influential and important part of our organisation. As Chair she lead with wisdom and insight, a steady hand steering through good and challenging times alike with grace, wisdom and humour.
We will always be so proud and grateful that Emma chose to devote so much of her busy life to us, testament not only to her resolute belief that social, political and economic equality for women is possible, but to her commitment to put her deeply held values into practice every day of her life. Emma devoted her career to working for true equality for women and she leaves a powerful legacy.
She will be remembered for her conviction, her values, her passion, her contribution to Scottish public life and advocacy for women and girls.
Emma Ritch was an extraordinary, inspiring women who brightened this world and made it better; we know that we are not alone in feeling her loss so painfully. We are thinking of her husband Kenny, her family, friends and colleagues and all who loved her. We will miss her immeasurably.
Emma is my inspiration.
When I arrived in Scotland and wasn't sure whether a career in feminism was possible, let alone what I wanted to do, I went to an Engender event. I heard Emma speak and that was that. A few years later, I had successfully started a career in the feminist third sector with aspirations to be, one day, as eloquent, humble, generous and astute as Emma.
Her ability to stay calm when faced with nonsense, to always see the woods for the trees, and to be able to infuse humour into even the heaviest of topics was truly amazing.
She was also so approachable - as a young person entering an intimidating sector where I knew no one, I was always amazed at how often Emma reached out to me and casually had conversations with me even though I was "no one". She made me feel like I could join in, like I could be a part of this group of outstanding driven women.
Every opportunity I had to engage with her was exciting. I always looked forward to hearing her thoughts on most anything. I think I will forever be saddened when attending a feminist event and know she won't be speaking.
She inspired me, she drove me, she supported me. I feel very lucky to have known her. Thank you Emma.
Emma, you will be so missed. Your contribution to the VAWG agenda was immeasurable and your passion for women's equality was inspiring. It will endure in your absence and I know others will continue to carry the torch in your name for years to come. I felt lucky to work with you, especially in recent months, and I will miss our frank and informal exchange through text messages that we started through the lockdown period. Of special note, the photo I sent of my cat listening intently to you on my screen during one meeting.
Sad beyond words, you left this world too soon.
Sending love to all of Emma's colleagues, friends and family.
Thoughts from all at Scottish Women in Sport to the family, friends and colleagues of Emma who I had the pleasure to meet on a few occasions with our work on GEMS.
I've met Emma only once, but she was a wonderful person. Passionate about her cause, ready to help any one who needed it. She empowered people like me, of ethnic minority background to fight for our rights. I'll miss her cheery disposition and encouragement. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. RIP.
Emma has been such a wonderful, such a caring, such a bright woman, shining and sharing her deep knowledge and her insights for what’s needed to pave the way into a caring future which will bring a good life for all. Her radiance and her dedication to work with all her energy towards a just and fair future for all will remain with us and will shine into the future, illuminating the path we are walking together. Emma’s spirit and legacy will walk with us.
To you, Emma's family, friends and colleages: I wish you all the strength, energy and consolation you need to go through these sad times! And I wish you that the times come soon when you can look at Emma’s legacy and Emma’s achievements and your memories of Emma are filled with gratitude knowing that she has made a remarkable impact and left this world a better place by contributing with all she was and all she would give and share!
In loving memory,
My thoughts are with Emma‘s family, friends and colleagues. I had the pleasure of meeting Emma several times, both through her work with Engender and through the many other change-making feminist causes with which she was involved. Every single time she was enthusiastic, warm and encouraging to others, regardless of their background or seniority. She made me feel valued and listened to, and that is incredibly powerful, and something I will carry with me. I will miss her very much and give thanks for the huge contribution she made and the good that she did in the world.
Before joining Rape Crisis Scotland I knew of Emma's work and influence. To get the chance to meet her and see her in her element was just inspiring. A true loss and someone who's memory will live on and continue to inspire future generations. I am sure everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Emma will continue to spread her message of equality, generosity and kindness. My thoughts are will her colleagues, friends and family at this difficult time.
So shocked and saddened by Emma’s untimely passing and Scotland is much the poorer for having lost this feminist warrior. We were more acquaintances than friends, but did enjoy the occasional chat on all things feminist. We disagreed on some issues but I always learned something from Emma and valued her genuine kindness and openness. We also, in the pre-covid days, used to commiserate together on the travails of the ScotRail glasgow Edinburgh commute! It is clear from social media that Emma touched so many women’s lives and the sense of collective shock and grief is tangible. I hope that, in time and when appropriate, Engender can help organise some kind of memorial event or tangible legacy naming Emma; her work lives on and that is her real legacy. She is someone who left the world a better place. RIP, Emma and deepest condolences to Kenny, her family , friends and sisters. S x
We’re not quite sure how to fully capture the extent to which Emma Ritch’s loss will be felt by us all in the YWCA Scotland community. Emma’s journey through feminist activism in Scotland is nothing short of incredible - she paved the way for future generations and truly shaped new possibilities for disrupting patriarchal systems to better serve society. Her particular impact on our own work between 2010 and 2012 as a trustee of our Glasgow Centre, and her continued guidance and collaboration on campaigning since then, has helped us drive our mission forward and across the country.
Emma left the world a better place than when she entered it – her legacy will continue to echo through Scotland’s feminists as we embody all that she brought to the fight for equality. She was a guiding light, empathetic to the core and unflinching in her demands for better. Emma’s mark on Scotland’s movement towards a feminist society was monumental and we are honoured to have had her a part of our movement – organisationally and within the wider feminist agenda.
Perhaps one of Emma’s greatest gifts to the movement was her ability to capture the imaginations of a nation as to build together a feminist future (in Scotland and far beyond) with compassion, wit, creativity and determination. Keeping her values close to our hearts, we will continue to change the world to one safe and full of potential for women and girls in Scotland and further afield. Emma’s loss will only add to our drive to achieve the world we all want to live in. We only wish she would be here to experience it with us.
Rest in power, Emma.
YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement
We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Emma Ritch, Executive Director of our Scottish sister organisation Engender. Emma was a brilliant and tireless campaigner for women's rights and gender equality, who we had the honour of working alongside on the UK Joint Committee of Women. She was a supportive colleague and friend who was always ready with advice and a kind word, and a fierce champion of women's voices and rights on both the domestic and international stage.
Emma was always an ally of Northern Irish women, always on the side of what is right and just, and always unafraid to speak up boldly for Scotland and Scots women. She was, in short, a force to be reckoned with. All of us at Northern Ireland Women's Platform send our love and solidarity to our Celtic sisters at Engender and to Emma's family and friends.
Emma, we will miss you greatly, but are privileged to have had the chance to know and work with you.
Rest in power, sister
We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Emma Ritch. Emma was instrumental in setting up the Consortium and was the Chair of our Board.
She was a person of such kindness, passion, wisdom and courage and her passing is a huge loss to equality and human rights in Scotland. We will miss her dearly.
We are sending our condolences to her family, friends and all those affected by her loss.
It was with great sadness that we learned that Emma Ritch passed away suddenly last Friday 9 July. Emma was Engender’s Executive Director and member of the EWL Board from 2018 to 2021.
Having learned of this sad news, the European Women’s Lobby extends our deepest condolences to Emma’s family and to the colleagues at Engender. As we mourn this great loss in the feminist movement, we honour and celebrate the life of Emma and the many lives she has touched.
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 not only Scotland, but also in Europe, a better place for women, as well as enriching the lives of those who knew her personally.
EWL feels immense and profound loss for such a brilliant, amazingly kind, and thoughtful soul and would like to share our solidarity and sisterhood across Europe, as we collectively process the loss of our dearest Emma.
We will always remember and be grateful for Emma’s immense contribution to the EWL during her mandate as member of the EWL Board of Administration from 2018 to 2021. As a Board member, she played a huge role in shaping EWL’s strategic direction and was always appreciated for her deep sensitivity towards everyone. Emma was a catalyst in EWL’s feminist economics working group and was instrumental in shaping our Purple Pact. She also provided key recommendations and insights as one of our gender budgeting experts which led to the recent launch of our gender budgeting platform, geared towards presenting solutions and strategies for governments and foundations to channel resources to women’s rights and women’s organisations.
Above everything else, Emma was a friend, a sister, a confidant to many EWL members and staff. She was always ready to lend a helping hand, offer an ear to listen, and share time to exchange openly in order to reach solutions. We will remember Emma as someone who looks for common ground and builds bridges. Who brings people together, to respect one another and the contexts we all thrive in.
Emma is a great loss for many of us who have had the honour to work alongside her and experience her brilliance. For Emma’s loved ones and for the women’s movement as a whole, we honour her and celebrate her life as one of the best feminists we have had the pleasure to work with.
Emma, your legacy continues….rest in power!
Tributes paid to Engender director who made Scotland 'a better place for women'
"A FORCE for good", "wise, kind and dynamic," and "an incredible woman" — tributes have been paid to women's rights campaigner Emma Ritch after her sudden death.
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