It’s a valiant effort, but maybe the adults in the country should practice what they preach. According to a report from Human Rights Watch, members of Afghanistan’s parliament voted to oppose a law that would increase the penalties for violence against women, and in March the Supreme reduced the sentences of 13 men accused of beating a woman to death in Kabul. Add to that the fact that only 24% of Afghan women are literate, and you have a less-than-pretty picture.
But since change has to start somewhere, give them credit, if grudgingly, for giving permission to the producers to introduce a Muppet who teaches Afghan boys how important it is to respect girls.
The Muppet, a 6-year-old boy named Zeerak, joins his sister Zari to promote gender equality in education and life on the show “Sesame Garden,” the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Massood Sanjer, the head of the channel that broadcasts the program, explained:
In a male-dominant country like Afghanistan, I think you have to do some lessons for the males to respect the females. So by bringing a male character to the show who respects a female character, you teach the Afghan men that you have to respect your sister the same way as you do your brother.
The channel wanted to create a character that could teach young boys that it’s important for girls to be able to get the same education that boys do. In a show of support for gender equality, Zeerak recently declared on the show, “I love Zari so much and as much as I love Zari, I love her friends too.”
Both of the characters are clothed in traditional Afghan dress — Zari wears a hijab and Zeerak dons a shalwar kameez, which is a long embroidered shirt and trousers. Zari joined the show last year to empower young Afghan girls, and her character gets to interview professional Afghans about their jobs.
“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 as we aim to help all children in Afghanistan grow smarter, stronger, and kinder,” said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy.
This report, by Amber Randall, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.