Afghan 'Sesame Street' adds girl power with first homegrown Muppet

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 10:20 AM

Zari, a curious and lively girl whose title means "shimmering" in the Dari and Pashto languages, makes her debut on Thursday on the "Baghch-e-Simsim" Afghan local co-production of the long-running U.

Egypt has Khokha, India has Chamki and presently Afghanistan is getting its first home-grown "Sesame Street" Muppet - a six-year-old girl called Zari.

Zari, a curious and lively girl whose title means "shimmering" in the Dari and Pashto languages, makes her debut on Thursday on the "Baghch-e-Simsim" Afghan local co-production of the long-running U. S. educational TV indicate for pre-schoolers.

For a tiny girl, Zari has a big mission.

She'south there to promote female empowerment in a nation where women and children were nearly totally excluded from educational opportunities some fifteen years ago, according to a two thousand fourteen United States Agency for International Development (USAID) report. Afghanistan presently has about five million kids below the age of five, but about one-third of them aren't in school.

Zari will be featured in "Sesame Street" segments about health, exercise and well-being, and will interview a Dr and other professionals to discover out what she'd necessity to do to become one herself.

"The exciting portion about Zari is that she's modeling for youthful girls that it's wonderful to go to school and that it'south ok to dream about having a career," Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop'south executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy, told Reuters.

"It'south so powerful that the first Afghan Muppet is a girl," Westin added.

With her purple face and tangle of brown, blue and orange wool hair, Zari will wear attire ranging from casual to traditional, and will be veiled where appropriate, said executive from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind "Sesame Street."

She joins "Baghch-e-Simsin" at the beginning of its fifth season. The show, which receives funding from the U. S. Dept of State, is the most watched TV program among youthful children in Afghanistan, where eighty-one % of children aged three to seven have seen it, according to Sesame Workshop.

Research has shown that previous seasons of the indicate have begun to open the minds of Afghan fathers about the cost of educating their daughters, Westin said.

Sesame Workshop partnered with the Afghan education ministry in the hope of reducing any cultural resistance to Zari and the ideas she'll assistance to introduce.

Zari follows female Muppets love Chamki in India and Kami in S Africa who play a key role in "Sesame Street" co-productions around the world where favorite characters love Elmo and Large Bird show up alongside locally-produced content.

Westin said TV shows love "Sesame Street," which launched in the United States in one thousand nine hundred sixty-ninth, can open minds and influence attitudes in a non-threatening way.

"Portion of the power of the broadcast and Zari'south potential as a role model is to reach children and parents where they may not have access to other educational content," she said.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao)

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