5 Empowering Movies on Netflix to Celebrate Women’s History Month

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I am a fan of fierce females; of rebels who fight against a misogynistic mentality, of feminists who refuse to be tied down by the chains of patriarchy, and of women leaders who do not hold back when they speak their mind. 

Growing up in a small town in India in the eighties, with a widowed mom and three sisters, I have seen firsthand how hard it is for a woman to live in a male-dominated society. My mom is my first role model; she is a hero and a warrior when it comes to being independent and not taking disrespect from anybody.

I have a great affinity and admiration for strong women. However, I do not hate men! There are several good men out there who support women’s causes and quest for equality.

We have come a long way as far as women’s rights and gender equality are concerned, but we still have miles to go. As happy as I am to see the first female Vice President in the White House, I will be excitedly ecstatic when we elect the first female President of America someday!

All these women I’ve discussed are an inspiration to me. They are also the reason I enjoy inspiring movies with strong female protagonists. Fortunately, Netflix currently has quite a few fantastic movies with strong female leads streaming now! Here is a list I’ve compiled for you. (Click on the titles for more information about each film.) 

Close

I absolutely loved watching Close, starring the lean and strong Noomi Rapace as Close Protection officer Sam Carlson. This movie follows Sam as she boldly fights insurgents in South Sudan, and is hired to protect a troubled teen named Zoe Tanner (played by Sophie Nélisse) who is the heir to Hassine Mining in Morocco.

Sam and Zoe escape attacks from abductors and are on the run from corrupt police officers as well as other assailants This movie is a thrilling, fast-paced, action-packed ride. The part I liked most was that Sam teaches Zoe how to fight back. There is a scene where Zoe is by herself, but she refuses to get in the truck with her kidnapper and defends herself with ferocity.

It is interesting to note that Rapace’s character is loosely based on that of Jacquie Davis, one of the world’s leading female bodyguards, whose clients have included Nicole Kidman and J.K. Rowling.

Moxie

Moxie is the story of a high school where boys objectify girls and rank them on their physical attributes. Marcia Gay Harden as principal Shelly, is complicit in this chauvinistic behavior. She never holds cocky football star Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) responsible for his terrible actions.

Vivian, a shy teen played by Hadley Robinson, is inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and publishes an anonymous zine that brings the high school girls together and sparks a revolution. These girls will not be “shoved aside” and “dismissed.” Amy Poehler directs this movie ingeniously and plays mom to Vivian.

I loved the character of Lucy, (Alycia Pascual-Peña ) who is the new girl in school. She calls out the racism in choosing texts for summer reading and speaks to the principal about how Mitchell is harassing her. When Vivian tells Lucy to stay off the radar and keep her head down so Mitchell will move on to bothering someone else, Lucy delivers my favorite line in this movie. She says, “I’m going to keep my head up, high.”

Suffragette

A suffragette is a woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest. This movie, set in 1920’s England, is shown through the lens of laundry worker Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan. Maud gets caught up in the suffragette movement and is subsequently jailed, tortured, and harassed. A defiant Maud attends a secret rally to hear Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), a political activist and leader, speak.

This is a candid film that also serves as a history lesson; a reminder that women had very few rights and they had to fight to get these rights. Nothing was handed to them through goodwill or a sense of fairness.

The rolling credits at the end list the countries that preceded England in giving women the right to vote, and others who did so later. All women in the UK got the same voting rights as men in 1928; though certain women over 30 were given the right to vote in 1918.

Sentinelle

Klara (played by Olga Kurylenko) is a soldier who is sent home after witnessing the shocking death of a little boy she was trying to save in Sudan. Suffering from PTSD, she becomes part of Operation Sentinelle, fighting domestic terrorism.

When her younger sister Tania (Marilyn Lima) is beaten and sexually assaulted by Leonid Kadnikov (Michel Nabokoff), a corrupt industrialist with friends in high places and multiple bodyguards, Klara decides to seek revenge. The force of her anger at the injustice propels her to fight the ones who have wronged her sister and she emerges victorious at the end.

She’s Gotta Have It

Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is a young, beautiful graphic artist living in Brooklyn who simultaneously dates three men: the well-intentioned and steady Jamie Overstreet (Tommy Redmond Hicks); the rich, self-obsessed model Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell; and the good-hearted, talkative New York Knicks fan, Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee).

Nola is attracted to all three of them, but she cannot bring herself to commit to one person. She feels that monogamy is a form of slavery or control. She wants to be free.

Although I am not a fan of dating multiple suitors at one time, it is interesting to watch the themes of sexuality and identity play out in the movie. Nola is a strong, liberated woman who thinks for herself and refuses to follow social norms imposed on women.

This is Spike Lee’s first directorial venture which received great critical buzz when it released in 1986.

Bonus Movies

My other favorite female empowerment movies on Netflix include Lady Bird, 20th Century Women, The Help and Julie and Julia.

On Amazon Prime, one of my favorite feminist movies is Chak De India, free to watch if you have a subscription. This is a Hindi movie about a girls’ hockey team and how they win despite all odds. I have fond memories of watching this film with my teenage daughter who completely connected with the message and felt empowered.

I would also highly recommend watching RBG, an enlightening documentary about a true feminist and supreme court judge, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. You can rent this documentary for 99 cents on Amazon Prime.

Hidden figures, A League of their Own and Bend It Like Beckham are three more great female empowerment movies available to rent on Amazon Prime as well.

What are some of your favorite movies with a strong female lead?

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Growing up in a small town in India, Mona Verma never dreamed that she would immigrate to America. She came to Columbia in 1996 when her husband found a job here and they were newly married. It was an arranged match but she did get to meet her future husband and give her approval and there has never been a shortage of love in their marriage. With a Masters in English and a Masters in Library and Information Science, Mona divides her time between being a part time Reference librarian and a part time writer. She is however, a full time mom to three teenagers, a girl and two boys. Volunteering, gardening, reading, binge watching her favorite TV shows and drinking wine with girlfriends spark tremendous joy in her. She is a very laid back person who likes to live and let live. Cups of hot ginger tea and hugs and cuddles from her family keep her going….

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