Since its launch in 2011, the Sharjah Baby Friendly (SBF) project, which is implemented and overseen by the Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), has sought to encourage and support a culture of breastfeeding in the emirate.

The project succeeded in implementing four community centered initiatives (Baby-Friendly Health Facilities (Based on the global Baby-Friendly Hospitals Initiative), Mother-Friendly Workplaces, Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries, and Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places) and managed to increase the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Sharjah from the then baseline of 18 percent in 2012 to approximately 60 percent by 2021, exceeding the World Health Assembly’s 2025 global target of 50 percent.As part of the project, in 2014, Sharjah announced increasing maternity leave (3 months of full pay – up from 45 to 60 days previously) and instituting other mother-friendly benefits and served as a model for other cities and emirates on implementing policies that support mothers. Sharjah sets an example not only for its institutions and residents, but for other cities in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf region, Arab region and globally and won UNICEF’s ‘Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) Inspire award in 2019.