There’s nothing we love more than The Muppets and Sesame Street – especially because they aren’t afraid of standing up for social issues and teaching children the importance of equality and an equal society (which we totally dig, by the way). A few months ago, the American show introduced us to their new addition, Julia, a Muppet with autism. And now, the Afghanistan Sesame Street has introduced their new Muppet. So, say hello to Zeerak!
The Afghanistan Sesame Street, better known as Baghch-e-Simsim announced their new recruit on their Instagram page. Zeerak is not only super adorable (which Muppet isn’t), but he’s also imparting a special and important message to the children and adults in the country. Zeerak is the younger brother of popular Muppet, Zari, and he’s there to encourage respect for women.
Zeerak, which means ‘smart’ and ‘talented’ in both Dari and Pashto, will be featured in segments that tackle topics including tolerance, respect and gender equity.
Massood Sanjer, the head of the broadcasting corporation in charge of the show has spoken about the new character and his role on the show.
In a male-dominant country like Afghanistan, I think you have to do some lessons for the males to respect the females. So by bringing a male character to show who respects a female character, you teach the Afghan men that you have to respect your sister the same way as you do your brother.
Zeerak comes as a refreshing move for the Afghan Muppets, as many of The Muppet characters serve as role models and teachers for the young people in the country.
Zeerak will also serve teach children the importance of education. In their introduction, The Muppets have said that,
Zeerak is an energetic and eager four-year-old who looks up to his big sister, Zari! He can’t wait to go to school with his big sister when he gets older.
Although to many of us this may not seem like a big deal, it is in Afghanistan. In the country, less than 40% of children finish their time at school – and two-thirds of that percentage are young girls. Zeerak’s character will not only show the importance of school education, and the importance of career goals and aspirations – no matter the gender, age, or ethnicity of the person. Throughout his time on the show, Zeerak will also use his new voice to promote tolerance for personal differences – with Zeerak and his sister wearing clothes worn by various different cultural groups in Afghanistan.
What a great move!