It’s International Women’s Day – a chance to celebrate women and more importantly, to continue talking about the issues which women face every day. An important thing to do if you care about women’s experiences and improving them is to educate yourself. This is particularly the case for men but also women. This is because race, class, sexuality, disability and gender identity impact women’s lives differently. As a white woman, for example, I will not experience the world in the same way as women of colour.
We all need to work hard to gain knowledge about the lives of women outside of our personal experiences. One of my favourite ways to learn is through documentaries. Whilst I love reading, it can often take a lot more brain power than watching something. For a couple of hours, put yourself into the worlds of women and be blown away by their strength. Prepare to feel compelled to do something. Remember that just because you do not see inequality around you, this does not mean it does not exist.
So, here’s 5 documentaries which you can find on Netflix (UK) that will educate you about various problems that women come up against across the world.
- The Testimony
This documentary short tells the story of the rape of women by soldiers and subsequent trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s inspiring to see women who continue to fight for their rights despite living in a place where society as a whole ostracises them. This documentary will remind you of the fact that women living in different countries and women of colour have things to contend with that some of us could not even begin to imagine.
Watch this if: you want to know more about the rape culture in non-white, non western countries.
- Audrie & Daisy
‘Audrie & Daisy’ covers a wide range of issues including rape culture, victim blaming, the impact of social media on young women and the common rhetoric of not getting punished for sexual assault. The documentary is focused on giving victims a voice and highlighting the lack of repercussions for perpetrators in the USA.
Watch this if: you want to know more about victim blaming and rape culture in America.
- She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ is the narrative of the beginnings of the women’s movement in the 1960s. It covers everything from methods of political action, abortion, contraception and changing attitudes to womanhood. This documentary is very America-centric but you do get a glimpse into other cultures such as the sterilisation issue for Puerto Rican women.
Watch this if: you want to feel empowered, if you want to know how the feminist movement started and the effort that went into shaping women’s lives today.
- Miss Representation
I wrote a whole post about this here so check that out if you want to know more about it. In summary, the documentary looks at the impact of the media on how the world views women. It’s really thought provoking and gives thoughtful suggestions on how to stop being complicit in the media’s negative portrayal of women.
Watch this if: you’re interested in the role the media plays in society
- Finding Home
This was particularly uncomfortable viewing however, human trafficking is the horrific reality faced by so many women and children all across the world. Set in Cambodia, ‘Finding Home’ tells the stories of 3 women and their experiences of trafficking and journey to a ‘safe house’.
Watch this if: you want insight into human trafficking
The theme of 2017’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold For Change.’ That is one thing all of the above documentaries have in common – powerful women sharing their experiences and overcoming obstacles. It is vital to be aware of different experiences and to learn about the lives of women who are different to us. There are issues other than gender which need to be taken into account – race, class, sexuality, disabilities etc. If we are wanting change in the world for women then we need to consider all of these things, not just the stories of white, middle class, able bodied women. There is hope for the situation to change, we all need to be part of it in any way we can manage.
Be bold and share your stories. Be bold and learn. Be bold and courageous. Be bold and confident in the fact that a better future is possible and women have the power to make it happen.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite documentaries are about women.