Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and President of the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Campaign, honoured members of the campaign’s executive committee and coordinators from government departments and organisations that has been accredited as baby-friendly by the campaign in recognition of their effort to its success.
The honouring ceremony took place yesterday (Tuesday) at Sharjah Ladies’ Club two weeks after His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah announced Sharjah as the world’s first baby-friendly city.
In her speech during the ceremony, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said, “The campaign was launched five years ago. It was not an easy mission, yet it was not impossible either. With its accurate criteria and many details, this required an active work team, whose members are empowered with their strong belief and enthusiasm. Our main focus was on those who will perform and carry out this mission and how they will work together to achieve the desired goal.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi added: “We started our work, with more interaction and cooperation day after day, and then we saw the campaign achieving its results with every passing day, and we were getting closer to our goal.”
Addressing the members of the campaign’s executive committee and coordinators at government departments and organisations that were accredited as baby friendly, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said, “Few days ago, we, along with the UAE and the entire world, witnessed the announcement of the results of your efforts, hard work and dedication, as well as your love of your country, and the emirate of Sharjah represented by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.”
Sheikha Bodour added: “When Sharjah was announced the world’s first baby-friendly city-a landmark achievement that you have been part of, the only thing that was in mind is you and how we have succeeded in achieving what has yet to be achieved by anyone else in the world. This achievement is for our children.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi expressed her pride in all the members and coordinators. “I am honoured, on my own behalf and on behalf of Sharjah’s mothers and children and everyone in our emirate, to thank you because you truly deserve profound thanks and appreciation for your efforts and contribution to make this campaign a success, in our quest towards a better beginning for a better future.”
Since its launch in 2011 under the theme “A true beginning for a better future”, the campaign, which has four initiatives under it, has reached close to its aim of creating a supportive environment for mothers in public places in the emirate to support breast feeding mothers and encourage them to increase the frequency and duration of breastfeeding.
In the past five years, the campaign launched several initiative and events to achieve this goal. As a result of this initiative, there are now 140 baby-friendly establishments and facilities in the emirate, raising the number of mother-friendly workplaces from zero to 82 including 18 mother and baby-friendly public places, 28 baby-friendly nurseries and 12 baby-friendly health facilities.
Also due to the campaign, the breastfeeding rates in the emirate have increased from 18% to 40% today. Sharjah is now closer to achieving the global target of 60% by 2021. The rate of formula-fed babies dropped from 67% before the initiative to 36%.
The five-year campaign was announced on December 9 by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and implemented for the first time on the global scale.