The Sharjah Baby Friendly office (SBFO) took part in the fifth edition of the Arab Civil Society Forum for Children, which recently concluded in Cairo, Egypt. Themed ‘Upbringing in a Changing World: New Minds for New People in a New Community’, the forum brought together more than 300 child rights experts from 18 Arab countries, who are representatives of supreme councils and national committees dedicated to childhood in the Arab world, in addition to other relevant regional and international organisations.
SBFO’s participation in the event was aimed at showcasing Sharjah’s expertise in empowering children and young adults. It highlighted Sharjah’s key accomplishments in childhood care, which were achieved thanks to the unparalleled support of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA).
Dr. Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBF), gave a detailed presentation on the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate project, which was implemented by the SBFO in collaboration with many governmental entities and civil society organisations in Sharjah, under the theme ‘A True Beginning for a Better Life’. She demonstrated the vision, mission, and key objectives of the project, which seeks to foster a better and healthier start to life for infants through providing a supporting environment that empowers all nursing mothers to breastfeed their babies. The idea is to promote natural breastfeeding given its physical and emotional benefits for mothers and infants alike.
Al Ghazal pointed out that the project efforts contributed to the selection of Sharjah as the world’s very first Baby Friendly City (CFC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), in recognition of its four initiatives that were simultaneously implemented for the first time in the world, namely; Baby-Friendly Health Facilities, Mother-Friendly Workplaces, Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places, and Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries.
Al Ghazal also showcased the different phases of the Sharjah Child Friendly City (SCFC) project, upon which Sharjah was approved as a ‘Child Friendly City’ by the UNICEF under its global ‘Child Friendly Cities Initiative’. Al Ghazal underscored that the on-going project is currently developing the executive plan 2019-2021, which aims to support the efforts of all organisations concerned with child care and child protection in Sharjah, ensuring that the project are integrated in Sharjah’s strategic development plans.
The Executive Director of SBFO underlined that Sharjah adopts a wise vision that perceives children as key pillars of progress and effective contributors to sustainable development. She pointed out that over the past four decades, in view of this vision, the emirate has been implementing baby and child friendly initiatives and providing children centres to ensure the fulfilment of their rights from the moment they are born to adulthood.
The Arab Civil Society Forum for Children is a periodical forum aimed at institutionalizing the efforts of Arab civil society organizations in the childhood field. Comprising more than 400 entities, it seeks to promote development awareness on children’s issues in the Arab World. The conference, which adopts the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), plays a pivotal role in building the capabilities of Arab civil society childhood organizations. In each edition, the conference identifies a key issue to be addressed and discussed in detail.