New Muppet promotes education, gender equity in Afghanistan

Afghan puppeteers dress Muppets Zeerak, left, and his sister Zari at a television studio in Kabul.

Story highlights

  • Zeerak is the younger brother of Zari, Sesame Street's first Afghan Muppet
  • "Baghch-e-Simsim" has reached 3.1 million kids aged 3 to 7 in Afghanistan

(CNN)There's a new Muppet in town on "Sesame Street," and he's promoting gender equity.

His name is Zeerak, he's 4, and he is the younger brother of Zari, Sesame Street's first Afghan Muppet. Both characters are featured on "Baghch-e-Simsim" ("Sesame Garden"), the Afghan co-production of the long-running children TV show.
Zeerak is described as an "adorable orange Muppet" who wears glasses and regional Afghan clothing. His name means "smart" and "talented" in both of Afghanistan's official languages, Pashto and Dari.
    Both he and Zari, introduced in 2016, are intended to show young people in Afghanistan, where women's rights have deteriorated under the Taliban, that girls can be as heroic as boys.