On April 7, 2016, the creators behind the long-running children’s show Sesame Street, introduced the world to their newest cast member; Zari.
A feminist, traditionally-dressed, female character from Afghanistan; Zari (who’s name means “simmering”) will make her first appearance on the 5th season of Baghch-e-Simsim, which is Afghanistan’s version of Sesame Street. Per a press release issued by the Sesame Street team, Zari’s focus will be on teaching “girls’ empowerment, national identity, physical health and social and emotional well-being”.
The press release went on to mention that Zari will be featured in three formats: she’ll speak directly to viewers, she’ll interact with children in person, and she’ll even interview a variety of Afghan professionals. Currently, planned segments with Zari include:
- Zari Exercises – Starting with a stretch her mother taught her, Zari shows kids at home how important it is to stay healthy and active. You can play sports like volleyball and cricket, or even just play in the park with your friends!
- Zari Says “Salaam” – Zari explains the meaning of the greeting “asalaam alaikum” and encourages her friends to use it to show they are happy to see one another.
- Zari Interviews a Doctor – During her check-up, Zari talks to her pediatrician, Dr. Khadija, and learns what it takes to become a doctor – and what her own heart sounds like!
Saad Mohseni, the president of the MOBY group (which airs numerous TV programs for Afghani children), is quoted as saying, “We are especially delighted about the introduction of Zari to Baghch-e-Simsim, which reflects Sesame’s commitment to the country and the show’s positive impact here.”
Following that, Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop, had this to say; “Debuting a confident, inquisitive, and sweet Afghan girl character is a perfect opportunity to engage both boys and girls with lessons supporting girls’ empowerment and diversity appreciation as we aim to help all children in Afghanistan grow smarter, stronger, and kinder”.
The social media team for Sesame Street also made several posts on the show’s Twitter account to announce Zari’s arrival this past Thursday.