The President of Finland Sauli Niinistö has awarded Iluta Lace with the Finnish decoration Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland. The decoration was presented to Ms. Lace at the Finnish Embassy on 30th October 2014 by Finland's Ambassador to Latvia Olli Kantanen.
Ms. Lace is a long-time advocate of women's rights in Latvia. Together with the Marthaförbundet, the Swedish-speaking Martha Association in Finland, she founded the Resource Centre for Women, "MARTA", in Latvia in 2000. Since that, she has been director of the MARTA Centre, the only women's rights advocacy organisation in the country. The organisation reaches out to all women – including immigrants and non-citizens.
MARTA Centre's activities aim at preventing poverty and female exclusion, eliminating violence against women as well as promoting women's rights as basic human rights. Every year, the Centre provides support to some 200–300 women who are victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. To this day, MARTA has helped more than 15 000 women who have experienced violence, human trafficking, economic vulnerability and exclusion.
Ms. Lace was a key advocate in the process leading to the adoption of the legislative amendments which help protect victims of domestic violence in Latvia. She has close contacts with many non-governmental organisations and public authorities in Latvia, as well as both the Swedish Martha Association in Finland and the Embassy of Finland in Riga.
Earlier this year, the Embassy together with Ms. Lace organised a seminar for influential Latvian businesswomen and female leaders on women's empowerment as well as collaborated on another conference directed at preventing domestic violence and providing support to victims of violence.
The Embassy of Finland values highly Ms. Lace's accomplishments and applauds her determined energy and courage in promoting the rights of all women.
The Order of the Lion of Finland was established in 1942 for individuals distinguishing themselves in civilian life or military service. The Grand Master of the Order is the President of the Republic of Finland.