Zeerak (Sesame Street)

How "Sesame Street" Afghanistan adding a boy muppet actually helps girls

The first Afghan Muppet was a 6-year-old girl named Zari, and the new muppet, Zeerak, is her brother


Matthew Rozsa
June 29, 2017 5:16PM (UTC)

The first Afghan Muppet is about to get a little brother, according to a press release.

"Baghch-e-Simsim" is an Afghan version of "Sesame Street" that first premiered in that country in both the Dari and Pashto language in 2011. Its first Afghan Muppet was a 6-year-old girl named Zari, who attends school and promotes ideas involving gender equality.

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Zeerak will be her 4-year-old brother and, in what is no doubt intended to encourage positive attitudes toward women in education, will absolutely adore and look up to his big sister Zari. In turn, Zari will be openly loving toward her younger brother and share his enthusiasm about the two of them going to school together in the near future.

The name "Zeerak" translates into "smart" and "talented" in Dari and Pashto, and Zeerak himself is orange, wears glasses and enjoys painting and playing games with Zari, who he views as a role model. He is also learning how to read and count and is excited about going to school so that he can make his dreams come true.

This isn't the first time that "Sesame Street" has used diversity as a way to push for a more inclusive agenda. Earlier this year, the American version of the show introduced its first ever autistic character, an autistic little girl named Julia. They have also encouraged inclusivity throughout their history, such as when they introduced a Muppet for their South African shown named Kami, a little girl who is HIV Positive.

Hopefully Zeerak will join in the tradition of Kami and Julia to become a puppet who does more than entertain children, but actively imparts humanitarian values.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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