By Nidhi Kinhal
Afghanistan’s Sesame Street, Baghch-e-Simsim, features lovable Zari, a six-year-old who goes to school and already peddles gender equality around her. Only now, she has a partner for the mission.
Zeerak, her four-year-old younger brother, loves and admires his sister. He has been created to “indirectly teach the kids to love their sisters” and generally, show positive attitudes towards educated women in society. Tolo TV, the channel that airs the show, also hopes to drive home the importance of education through the character.
Zeerak seems like an absolute cutie—he’s orange, wears spectacles (which is apparently considered shameful for Afghan youngsters), and loves to learn with Zari. My verdict is on hold about introducing a tiny dude to empower girls, but I can definitely see the logic. It’s not just important for young women to educate themselves, stick to school, and feel like equals. The boys need to be sensitised to support their female counterparts; they must contribute to a sensitive, privilege-conscious atmosphere. Questioning the status quo is a job for all, and Zeerak, whose name means “smart” in Dari and Pashto, is a great fit.
I can’t wait to see the mighty duo in action. Until then, watch Zari introduce him to you.