Zari profile.png
PERFORMER Mansoora Shirzad (Pashto language)
  Sima Sultani (Dari language)
  Haley Jenkins (U.S.)
  Sangya Ojha (India)[1]
DEBUT 2016

Zari and her performer, Mansoora Shirzad

Zari with Rula Ghani, the First Lady of Afghanistan

Zari is an Afghan Muppet on Sesame Workshop's co-production Baghch-e-Simsim.

Zari is described as "an eager six-year-old girl"[2] whose name means "shimmering" in Dari and Pashtu, Afghanistan's two official languages.[3]

She appears in three of the locally-produced segments for the series, "speaking directly to viewers, interacting with children in person, and interviewing a variety of Afghan professionals."[2] As the first original Muppet on Baghch-e-Simsim, Zari was created as a female character to "overcome the endemic misogyny that is often excused as part of [Afghanistan's] cultural and religious heritage" and "to emphasize the fact that a little girl could do as much as everybody else".[3]

The Zari puppet was built in the New York workshop with skin and hair designed to identify with all of Afghanistan's ethnicities and her costumes use fabrics from the Pashtoon, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara ethnic groups.[3]

Zari made her U.S. debut on Yahoo News with Katie Couric on April 26, 2016, appearing with Sesame Workshop's Sherrie Westin. Zari says she loves that New York City is called the Big Apple because she loves fruit. As a tri-lingual student (she speaks English, Pashto, and Dari), she explains that she likes learning about other cultures and languages. Westin emphasizes that Afghanistan's first Muppet was created as a female because over two-thirds of girls in the country are not schooled and stressed the importance of role models not just for little girls, but to "model for young boys that it's okay for a girl to have an education and for women to have different roles and responsibilities." She continued, "We even found many Afghan mothers have said it's Baghch-e-Simsim and Zari that have changed their husbands' mind about sending their daughters to school." In a companion video, Zari says that she likes to play football (soccer), her favorite thing is school, and that she wants to be a doctor or an engineer when she grows up.[4]

External links

Zari featured in Sesame Workshop Ramadan greeting.


  1. Haley Jenkins on Facebook "It's an honor to be "friends" with Sesame's newest Muppet, Zari, while she's visiting all the way from Afghanistan! The First Lady of Afghanistan, Mrs. Ghani, was lovely. This will be a night I will never forget." April 7, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sesame’s world grows with first female Afghan Muppet" by Patrick Callan, April 7, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 WTOP "Zari, new female puppet, joins Afghan Sesame Street" by Lynne O'Donnell, April 9, 2016
  4. Yahoo News "Meet Zari: Afghanistan's first female Sesame Street character" by Katie Couric, April 26, 2016
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.