Tuesday, April 19 2016, 09:38:09
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Ayushi Agarwal

JWB Blogger

Sesame Street New Muppet ‘Zari’ Shall Promote Girl Rights In Afghanistan

  • JWB Post
  •  April 13, 2016


A six-year-old female Muppet named ‘Zari’ has made her debut appearance on the Afghan version of Sesame Street, called ‘Baghch-e-Simsin’, which means ‘Sesame Garden’.

Purple-skinned and orange-nosed Zari (which means ‘shimmering’ in Dari and Pashtu, Afghanistan’s two official languages) will wear a headscarf with her school uniform, which unlike that for girls across Afghanistan will not be black – Sesame Street characters do not wear black – but pale blue.

Her skin and hair were also designed to ensure that Zari cannot be identified with any specific ethnicity,.

Producers are hoping Zari will help inspire young girls in a country where women were completely excluded from schooling, until recently.

Zari will have two segments in each show, one on her own and another in which she interviews people from a wide range of backgrounds aiming to educate her young audience about such things as the importance of study, exercise and health.

Each Sesame Street season has at least one theme, decided by the New York producers. This season’s themes are cultural identity and girl’s empowerment.

Zari is a female because in Afghanistan we thought it was really important to emphasise the fact that a little girl could do as much as everybody else, says Clemence Quint, program manager for Lapis Communications, the Afghan partner of the Sesame Street Workshop

The two production houses worked together with Afghanistan’s Education Ministry to develop a Muppet that fits into every Afghan’s vision of their nation while still conforming to the values that have made Sesame Street one of the world’s most successful children’s television programs.

The lady who plays Zari, Mansoora Shirzad says:

“I hope she will have a positive impact on our kids, will make the program interesting, and will bring some new colour to it, enabling us to convey the messages that our children need to know.”

Part of that project was the creation of a vibrant Afghan media sector, as well as repairing the education system and getting girls back to school alongside boys.

What an amazing initiative. Kudos!


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