'Sesame Street' welcomes first Afghan muppet: A girl named Zari

Grover, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt and Rachel Tischler on The USO
Grover, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt and Rachel Tischler on The USO

Afghanistan is welcoming a new resident to Sesame Street with Zari, the first Afghan muppet.

Zari is a 6-year-old girl who will be joining season five of Baghch-e-SimSim, the Afghan co-production of the show. The muppet will be featured in locally produced segments focusing on girls' empowerment, national identity and physical health.

The purple muppet's name means "shimmering" in the Dari and Pashto languages.

"The exciting part about Zari is that she is modeling for young girls that it is wonderful to go to school and that it's OK to dream about having a career," Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop's executive vp global impact and philanthropy, told Reuters.

See photos of Sesame Street through the years:

"It's so powerful that the first Afghan Muppet is a girl," added Westin. Sesame Workshop worked with the Afghan education ministry in an attempt to avoid cultural resistance to Zari.

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