-- Sesame Workshop is welcoming its first Afghan Muppet -- a 6-year-old girl named Zari -- in an effort to promote female empowerment in the country.
"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," said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop's executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy.
Zari is being introduced to children in a country where girls have fewer educational opportunities than their male counterparts. Education is often not an option for many girls and women in Afghanistan, according to government figures. About 26 percent of the nation's population is literate, and among women the rate is only 12 percent.
The character, with her purple face and tangled hair, is sometimes featured in a veil. She will appear in segments focused on tradition and culture as well as health, exercise and well-being.
In one segment, Sesame says Zari will interview a pediatrician to find out what it would take for her to become a medical professional and to learn more about taking care of herself.
Westin said Sesame is "thrilled" to bring the Afghan girl Muppet and "powerful role model" to the children of Afghanistan.
"Sesame Street" was originally launched in the United States in 1969.