Sharjah: A Champion of Children
Sharjah has been leading the child friendly movement in the UAE and the region under the directives and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the support of his wife Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, who were quick to recognise that the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy society and that child friendly cities are also cities that are better for all age groups.
For over 40 years, our leaders have ensured that the emirate is a place where children’s rights to a healthy, caring, protective, educative, stimulating, non-discriminating, inclusive and culturally rich environment are fully addressed.
In doing so, Sharjah has made great achievements in the field of child care. In June 2016, the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) was established to become a focal point for all strategies and activities concerned with the development and well-being of 0 to 18 year-olds. The office also serves as a platform for cooperation and innovation between organisations who come together to explore ways to collaborate in creating a city that provides its children every opportunity to express their aspirations and shape their future.
Since its inception, the SBFO has adopted the Sharjah Child Friendly City Project, after the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced Sharjah a candidate city for its global Child Friendly Cities (CFC) Initiative. To realise this goal, the SBFO brought together over 23 government and private organisations, working to fulfil their respective CFC Core Components as laid out by UNICEF, to guide the emirate in its journey to become the region’s first ‘Child Friendly City’.
The SBFO is also tasked with overseeing and implementing the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, which was launched in March 2012 and targeted mothers and newborns from 0-2 years. The Campaign’s efforts culminated in 2015 when Sharjah was named the world’s first ‘Baby-Friendly City by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This is just the beginning. We have a long way to go, from additional policy changes, to changing people’s mindsets – every little step the community takes towards making Sharjah a better place for our children, will be another building block in ensuring they grow up to become bright, happy and leading citizens of the world.
Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal
Executive Director of Sharjah Baby Friendly Office