Bijal Brahmbhatt is the Director of Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT). She is a civil engineer by training and is a recognized expert in habitat improvement - through women’s empowerment, community development, and housing finance. She supervises the MHT’s operations at the national level and has proven experience in conceptualizing and managing slum up-gradation programs across India. Her professional experience has focused on poverty alleviation issues (especially with women), Entrepreneurship, Slum up-gradation, Water & Sanitation, Urban planning, Housing finance, Housing technology, etc. She is on board for SEWA Grih Rin, a housing finance company for poor women. She also works as an advisor to poor women's credit cooperatives.
What is your favourite word?
“Leadership” Most women empowerment programs are geared towards subjects like domestic violence, financial aid for shelters, etc. All those are valid but, women's participation in public matters is being missed out by society. They have no voice. Women need to take leadership in public engagement. That is the right essence of women's empowerment to me.
What was the moment in your life that made you Blossom into the person you are today?
I was born into a Gujarati "Bhramhin" family. My father was a professor at IIM. He connected himself with most of the voluntary organizations to help people in all possible ways. And growing up, I have seen people come to our home with varied issues. It didn’t matter what caste, religion, and place they belonged to. Being a curious child, I always involved myself in these discussions and noticed a pattern of patriarchy and questioned the ways of life. Then I got introduced to "Mahila Housing Trust” which focused not only on women empowerment but also on helping them technically by educating on housing finance and about what the word “Empowerment” meant. Also, how things worked on the ground was a part of the project. These two things led me to where I am today.
What would you want the young boys & girls to learn from your journey?
It’s all about passion. One needs to be passionate about what one does. When I say passion, I don't mean finding one true purpose in life. We must first understand that one can be passionate about many things in life. But giving the best of yourself reflects the passion for the work. Factors like dedication, commitment, and whole-heartedness get the work done. Being passionate is about curiosity, questioning things, the desire to make people understand and be understood by them. Passion is when you look forward to learning. Whatever you do, find your passion, and pursue it.