There's a new neighbor on "Sesame Street" and she's helping to promote women's rights in Afghanistan, reports Buzzfeed News.
Zari is a 6-year-old girl that was added to the cast of characters on "Baghch-e-Simsim," the Afghan spin-off of "Sesame Street," which is the most watched children's program in that country.
Zari, which means "shimmering" in Dari and Pashto, is the first Afghan muppet on the show and the message that she's female is unmissable. She wears traditional clothing with a veil when appropriate, but is also shown in more casual clothing. She'll talk about the importance of eating healthy, getting exercise and general well-being.
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Most importantly, Zari will promote the idea that going to school and having a career are wonderful things for girls and women to do. According to Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind "Baghch-e-Simsim" in Afghanistan, the aim of the program is to "deliver lessons of literacy, math and life skills to millions of Afghan children, with a special emphasis on girls' education and cultural awareness. The need is enormous. Less than two-thirds of Afghan children are enrolled in primary school, a rate that's even lower for girls."
Sesame Workshop partnered with the Afghan education ministry to develop the character of Zari in hopes of showing the importance of girls' education. They want her to be a positive role model, not only for Afghan girls, but for Afghan boys as well, in order to change some of the harsh lifestyle restrictions that are imposed on women in the country.
Photo: Zari made her debut on April 7, 2016 on "Baghch-e-Simsim," the Afghan spin-off show of "Sesame Street" in the U.S.