(BWA) – Mona Khauli of Lebanon is the 2023 recipient of the Baptist World Alliance’s Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award. Presented at the BWA Annual Gathering in Stavanger, Norway, on July 4, the award honors significant and effective activities to secure, protect, restore, or preserve human rights.
Motivated by her faith and humanitarian values, Khauli has devoted her life to advancing the human rights of women and girls in Lebanon. Over the course of six decades, she has advocated for women’s equal participation in society and has led numerous programs to empower women through social, economic, and educational development.
Since 1977, Khauli has served as National Executive Director of the YWCA in Lebanon. Assuming the position during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, she led the organization’s extensive response to the conflict. Overseeing a team of 800 volunteers and nine member associations, she worked to provide emergency aid to both Christians and Muslims in eight regions of Lebanon. She also led the development of vocational training programs for a growing number of women who became heads of households as a result of the war.
At great personal risk, Khauli remained during the war to serve in Lebanon while many other organizations moved their operations to safer areas. After the war ended in 1990, Khauli led YWCA’s “Come, Let Us Rebuild” initiative which expanded training and income-generating projects to support women’s financial self-sufficiency, as well as leadership programs to foster women’s equal participation in the rebuilding of the country.
In addition to increasing women’s educational, employment, and leadership opportunities, Khauli has worked to enact legislation to eliminate discrimination against women and has led nation-wide campaigns to end violence against women. In 2004, she established the first shelter in Lebanon for abused women and children.
Throughout her ministry, Khauli has sought to empower women to be full participants in all parts of society. She was the first woman to attend a meeting of the Baptist convention in Lebanon, and she was the first female Baptist World Alliance Vice President from the Middle East, serving from 1995-2000.
Accompanied by her granddaughter and namesake, Khauli traveled to Stavanger to accept the award in person.
“I am honored to uphold this award having served as one of the BWA Vice Presidents from 1995-2000, alongside the dedicated Denton Lotz. Moreover, both Janice and Denton Lotz became our personal family friends over these years,” said Khauli. “For me this honor is a precious foreshadow of the future crown – ‘the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ It is an uplifting fulfillment of the promise in Psalm 92:12 – ‘The righteous shall flourish like a Palm tree, and shall grow like a Cedar in Lebanon, they shall still bear fruit in old age, to declare that the Lord is upright.’”
The award selection process was led by BWA Awards Committee Chair Thomas Klammt, Committee Vice-Chair Fernando Brandão, and committee members Kwame Adzam, Samson Fatokun, Pau Khan Khai, Sylvester King, Harry Lucenay, MDR Mayuranjana, Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, Lina Sawan, Vesekhoyi Tetseo, Elijah Wanje, and Anslem Warrick.
“At a time when you had all the economic, social, and personal opportunity to leave Lebanon during the civil war, you decided to stay in the most dangerous area of the country,” said Sawan, Awards Committee Member and BWA Vice President. “Under the mercy of bombs, you served women and girls who were under persecution and other problems, without distinction between Muslim or Druze or Christian. All the while, your house was a Bible classroom and a safe haven for many. Today, many Baptist women in Lebanon – and around the world – reap the results of your pioneering work.”