"Focused on the most vulnerable and on global responsibility”
(LWI) - Maria Immonen, the director of LWF World service, will be conferred an honorary Doctor of Theology by the University of Helsinki in June. This was announced by the University of Helsinki on 20 March 2023. She is among 30 distinguished individuals from around the world will be conferred as honorary doctors. The conferment ceremony will take place on 9 June in Helsinki.
Long career in international aid
“Maria Immonen has had a long career in international aid in countries including Finland, Tanzania and Switzerland,” the faculty writes about Immonen. “She is currently Director of the Department for World Service at the Communion Office of the Lutheran World Federation, the first woman to hold the role. She leads the federation’s extensive humanitarian and development work, focused on the most vulnerable and on global responsibility. Immonen is an alum of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Arts.”
“I am honoured and deeply touched to be recognized this way by my old university for the work I have done throughout my life in the field of Human Rights, humanitarian assistance, and long-term development,” said Immonen, who holds a Master of Arts from the University of Helsinki.
I take it as a recognition that work to promote the human rights of those most marginalised in our world today, who live in conflict and climate impacted parts of the world where there are no cameras, is important to Finnish society and the values we hold and wish to promote.
– Maria IMMONEN, LWF World Service director
Recognition of work for the marginalized
“I take it as a recognition that work to promote the human rights of those most marginalised in our world today, who live in conflict and climate impacted parts of the world where there are no cameras, is important to Finnish society and the values we hold and wish to promote. A world in which all human beings are treated equally and whose rights are recognised no matter where they are, and what circumstances they are born into.”
This year, the Faculty of Theology, awards eight honorary doctorates. Among the other recipients are former LWF president, Bishop Emeritus Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Maria Immonen joined LWF World Service in September 2003 and worked as a Program Officer until 2007. She rejoined in April 2014 as Global Program Coordinator. Since November 2014 she has led the department, first in an interim position, and since July 2015 as its director. Immonen is the first woman in that position.
LWF World Service is the LWF’s humanitarian and development arm. Mandated by the 149 Lutheran member churches of the communion, World Service works in 27 countries worldwide, serving 3.2 million people in need.