Scotland’s First Minister has been among those to pay tribute to the executive director of the women's equality charity Engender, who died last week aged 44.
Emma Ritch, who had worked at the charity for more than 13 years, died suddenly on Friday, a statement from Engender said.
It is understood she died at home due to medical reasons.
Ritch was also chair of Rape Crisis Scotland, vice-convenor of the board of Close the Gap, which campaigns for the rights and status of women in the workplace, and a member of the Scotland Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In addition, she was a member of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls, which advises the Scottish government on how to tackle gender inequality.
Engender said in a statement that Ritch’s death was a “huge shock to us all”.
It said: “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 are sending all of our love to Emma’s family and friends, and anybody struggling with this news.”
The charity said it would close its offices for a week in an attempt to “collectively process” Ritch’s death.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said on Twitter that Ritch would be “missed beyond words”.
This is dreadful and devastating news. Emma was such a force for good - a passionate advocate for women’s rights and a champion of justice and equality. She was also a cherished friend to many. She will be missed beyond words. Sending love to her family, friends and colleagues. https://t.co/0sGfOHK0ql— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 12, 2021
Engender said Ritch left behind her husband and much-loved family across Scotland and New Zealand.
The charity launched a tribute site this week for people to share messages of condolence and memories of Ritch.