Known for being an educational program for young children, Sesame Street will be not only be teaching kids, but also providing a role model for girls with their newly-introduced Muppet.
Meet Zari, an Afghan Muppet that The New York Times says will “become a strong role model for girls in a country with a poor record of promoting women’s rights, according to the production company Sesame Workshop.”
Only appearing in the Afghan version of the program, the Times says the character sports “multicolored hair and wears a head scarf with her school uniform.” But the 6-year-old Zari, whose name means “shimmering,” will not only act as a form of representation of Afghani girls, she will also “focus on girls’ empowerment, health and emotional well-being, the production company said,” according to the Times.
Director of Communications for Sesame Workshop Philip Toscano told the Times that although the show has been in Afghanistan for five years, Zari’s introduction comes in an attempt to offer more relevant content to the show’s viewers.
The Times says of Zari’s incorporation into the show:
“The debut of the character is notable in Afghanistan, a country that imposes strict limits on women’s lifestyles and rights. There have been efforts to improve conditions for Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban government 14 years ago, but many of the gains are seen as fragile.”
According to Toscano, Zari will appear in every episode. For Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, Zari will be important in not only teaching children, but also in modeling strong character.
Explaining that research has indicated that depictions of confident girls have changed boys’ opinions, Westin told the Times, “We know children learn best when they can identify themselves with characters on the screen.”