[Photo by Beth Chalmers]
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!
Anyone who would like to write a tribute to Emma can contact us, or post it on the Engender dedicated webpage.
Here are some tributes from the EWL members:
I’m deeply shocked by the news of Emma Ritch’s sudden death. Emma was a feminist who dedicated her life to working for true equality for women and girls in Scotland and Europe.
I got to know her through volunteer work for European Women’s Lobby, where we will miss her intelligence and guidance.
It’s so unreal and unfair. A young, brilliant, funny, smart and generous woman has passed way too soon.
My deepest condolences to her partner and family. She will be missed profoundly.
With all my heart,
Ellen Calmon Icelandic Women’s Rights Association
It really is incredible we lost the wonderful Emma Ritch . She was a real feminist with great strategic insight and vision. Moreover a kind person, full of empathy and always caring for all women and girls in need . She was a great contributor to our Purple Pact and a fierce fighter for a new world with equal opportunities for everyone , without any exceptions. She fought for an inclusive feminism, leaving no one behind. Although we knew she had some health problems, she never complained and we couldn’t imagine that her situation was so serious. But this was Emma: always caring for others, never putting herself on the first place.
We will miss her terribly. Let’s honour her legacy.
Magda De Meyer Belgian Coordination
I only met Emma once but her memory is alive in me. Bright, witty, prompt in every discussion. I am sad but I think her memory will be an example to us all.
Luisa Bosisio Fazzi, European Disability Forum
We were joking together that we were part of the dinosaurs but we were planning for more cooperation, more projects and more fun. I will keep a memory of Emma’s bright light and positive outlook on life.
Amélie Leclercq, BPW Europe
I admire Emma for her values that she presented with positive energy and a calm attitude. She had a strong voice in our discussions and I will miss her. I just started to learn from her all this and have been hoping our paths would cross again. To honor her feminist legacy I will try hard to carry on working in this positive and inclusive way…. And thank you Emma for all the editing of our English language statements that you have done for us!
Hana Stelzerova, Czech Republic
Emma Ritch was brilliant and kind and witty. She was fiercely feminist and a strong voice for women and girls in Europe. Her words and her deeds emphasized inclusion, that gender equality leaves no one behind. She was a force for change. We will miss her very much.
Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir, Iceland
Emma was an incredible feminist leader who contributed hugely to the European Women’s Lobby in so many ways.In her capacity as Board member, she also ensured that UK feminists remained connected and engaged with women’s rights work in Europe during this challenging time.
She was a powerful force within the EWL’s Feminist Economics working group in shaping our collective vision for a feminist economy for Europe. Her work will have a positive and lasting impact for women and girls rights throughout Europe.
Emma was always kind, smart and incredibly supportive of our collective work. I will always remember her positive energy, incisive analysis and great sense of humour. She was greatly admired by all the colleagues at the EWL Secretariat.
Emma’s untimely death is a huge loss for the women’s movement in Scotland and in Europe. Emma : we will miss you more than words can express.
Rest in Power!
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. Elisabeth Klatzer, Austria
Emma was so full of positive energy, vitality, a leader who inspired and encouraged others in all our efforts, always mindful and helpful. Her fighting spirit was strong, indeed her untimely passing is a loss for the movement and for each of us who had the privilege of working alongside her. Rest in power my friend!
Pirkko Mahlamäki, European Disability Forum
And suddenly we have lost another feminist voice: Emma Ritch, my colleague at the Feminist Economics Working Group of EWL, has passed away. Terrible news…
We last worked together, at the European level, on Gender Budgeting: how to make this essential democratic and equality instrument available to women and their representative organizations across Europe.
Rest in power, Emma.
Ana Sofia Fernandes, Portugal
Emma was a guide and a friend to me, as a fellow Brit, when I first came to the EWL Brussels meetings. She was helpful, constructive and always positive. I enjoyed several breakfasts chatting with her before meetings and was impressed by her knowledge and ability to summarize the main points of debates. I miss her - her energy and strength.
Linda Schang, Sweden
Emma, you will always be in our hearts! You are a dear friend, feminist leader that will be missed! Your hard work and dedication to women’s rights and human rights will continue to set light to many feminists! Rest in power and light dear Emma! It was such a pleasure to work, laugh and get a break over a coffee and small treats with you! I feel so lucky to get to know you!!
Aslihan Tekin, Turkey
You have been such a wonderful gifted woman; when you entered the room or spoke people noticed and listened. You will be missed more than words can express - but it is hard to imagine being without your knowledge and insights on many issues. You have been a role model for many and I am honored to have known you.
Bettina Pfleiderer, Medical Women’s International Association
Emma, my long term wonderful emphatic and brilliant feminist friend, I cannot believe that you passed away. Last time I saw you in the midst of us in the European Women’s Lobby you smiled so nicely, unfolded your wise advice and your personality was as strong as ever shining bride. You had been with us through all months of the Covid-crisis; we should have met after it all. We envisioned to get Gender Budgeting done, get done a change to our visions of a feminist caring Europe. You gave us the feeling, with you, we could only succeed. With you, a model of a proud and loud Scottish European feminist, we were unbeatable. There you will remain forever, on our side, one of us. RiP- Love
Marion Böker, International Alliance of Women