Puppeteer Seema Sultani holds Zeerak, the new muppet on Afghanistan's "Sesame Street" meant to promote education and gender equality.Afghan television executives are taking innovative strides to prompt a change of heart about&nbsp;gender equality, particularly among the&nbsp;nation's youngsters.Say hello to&nbsp;Zeerak, a goofy-grinned, bespectacled marionette donning&nbsp;a traditional shalwar&nbsp;kameez&nbsp;and a waistcoat embroidered with&nbsp;Afghanistan's national colors.&nbsp;&nbsp;Zeerak is the most recent addition to the cast of "Baghch-e-Simsim" &mdash; Afghanistan's hugely successful, localized version of "Sesame Street" &mdash; and only the second Afghan muppet to join the ranks of internationally beloved&nbsp;favorites such as&nbsp;Big Bird and Elmo.The masterminds behind "Sesame Street" crafted Zeerak's character for a joint purpose: to teach viewers the value of an education, as well as the value of an educated woman.&nbsp;The show's official Twitter account introduced the "Sesame Street" newbie with a tweet that read: "Zeerak is a friendly 4-year-old who admires his big sister, Zari!" (Zari made her "Sesame Street" debut last year as the show's first-ever Afghan character.)The TV show's producers hope that&nbsp;Zeerak's reverence for Zari&nbsp;&mdash; a sharp, sweet young girl who is largely characterized by her enthusiasm for learning and career-focused ambition &mdash; will instill in young boys the idea that women's place in society extends beyond the home.&nbsp;Massood Sanjer, who heads the television network that broadcasts "Baghch-e-Simsim," believes that introducing a boy character who not only respects his school-going older sister, but actually wants to be like her, will "indirectly teach the kids to love their sisters."That'll be a lofty feat in Afghanistan, where 85% of the female population receives no formal education and the literacy rate among women is one of the lowest in the world.&nbsp;But&nbsp;as the only Afghan television program dedicated to children, "Baghch-e-Simsim" wields the potential for enormous influence. And the show&nbsp;intends to use it.&nbsp;"People ... who have access to TV are watching and know the brand of the character," Sanjer&nbsp;said in an interview with AFP. "So it is a very good sign that people love to learn and it is great to use media as an education tool for kids."