Sophie Sartain (Seeing Allred), Bonnie Cohen (Audrie & Daisy), Deepika Kumari (Ladies First) and Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Heroin(e)) are just a few of the women making headlines for their powerful, evocative and sometimes controversial documentaries. These women engage uncomfortable audiences with real-life stories that educate viewers about eating disorders, poverty, loss and racism.
Although they give audiences a peek into the lives of women as well as men, they all convey a single message – the enormous importance of equality in our world. In this list of compelling Netflix documentaries made by, for and about women, some of the most prominent women’s issues come to life on-screen. So if you are looking to learn more about inspiring women across the globe, these documentaries will help enlighten you.
1. Ladies First
Though Deepika Kumari was born into a life of poverty, in an Indian village with few rights, she rose to become the number one female archer in the world, at only 18 years of age. Deepika overcomes financial, gendered and cultural barriers on her way to the top.
2. Daughters of Destiny
Five girls from India’s most impoverished families attend a boarding school designed to create opportunities as they strive for a brighter future. The documentary is full of hope, following pupils at a school that aims to break the cycle of poverty.
3. Gaga: Five foot two
Filmmaker Chris Moukarbel introduces the woman behind the performer, the costumes, the glitz and the glamour. The film follows Lady Gaga as she releases a new album, preps for her Super Bowl halftime show and confronts physical and emotional struggles.
4. Audrie & Daisy
This urgent documentary examines the ripple effects on family, friends, schools and communities when two underage young women find that sexual assault crimes against them have been caught on camera.
Three women make breaking the cycle of heroin addiction in Huntington, West Virginia their personal mission. While addiction threatens to tear communities apart, these women show how compassion holds this town together.
6. Kingdom of Us
When their father commits suicide, his seven children and wife are left struggling emotionally and financially. Kingdom of Us is an authentic look into mental illness and the lasting effects on everyone it touches.
7. What Happened Miss Simone?
This documentary tells the story of Nina Simone, the artist and activist who found a purpose for the stage—becoming an artist who truly reflected the times. Through telling her story, the documentary exposes the story of the woman who put everything she had into fighting for change during the Civil Rights Movement.
13th explores racism in America through the lens of the prison system and mass incarceration. Shocking statistics and history lessons capture the cultural, societal and economic repercussions of the system and its ripple effects on the women caught in the cycle.
9. Seeing Allred
Unlike most lawyers, Gloria Allred, the USA’s highest-profile women’s rights attorney, fights her battles in full view of the public. In this intimate portrait, Allred gives us a glimpse into how she has been personally affected by the behaviours she now crusades against.
This is by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Suggestions to add to this list are more than welcome in the comments section.
Featured Image Credit: What’s on Netflix