• Clodagh Meaney

13 Netflix documentaries about inspirational women

Just in case you needed a reminder of how badass women are

By Clodagh Meaney

Women are great. We really are.

During the lockdown, I have been spending a lot of time watching documentaries. In particular, I've been watching a lot of documentaries about the fight of women from a variety of different backgrounds, with different stories and different perspectives on life to me.

Here's a look at my Netflix picks about incredible and inspirational women who have taught me about their fight for acceptance and equality.


Becoming is a behind the scenes look at Michelle Obama as she tours with her best selling autobiography of the same name.

In interviews with Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey to name but a few, Michelle opens up on the road about her life as the first African-American First Lady of the United States, raising daughters in the White House and defying the expectations of her childhood teachers.

Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story

Cyntoia Brown Long was 16-years-old when she was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and robbery of Johnny Michael Allen.

The then-teenager claimed that the deceased paid her $150 for sex at his home and during their encounter, she feared for her life so much so that shot him in self-defence before fleeing the scene in his car.

In 2017, her case received media attention when celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian expressed outrage at her sentencing. The following year, she was granted clemency and was released in August 2019.

Miss Americana

Directed by Lana Wilson, this documentary follows Taylor Swift throughout a few years of her career.

The film is a compilation of interviews, home videos and studio footage showing Swift during the process of creating her sixth (Reputation) and seventh (Lover) albums.

Described as "emotionally raw," fans see Taylor like never before as she opens up about body dysmorphia, her sexual assault case and her decision to go public with her political views.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Victoria Cruz investigates the death of AIDS and LGBT activist, Martha P. Johnson, a self-identified drag queen who is a veteran of the Stonewall Riots - a pivotal event in LGBTQ+ history which sparked the creation of global pride celebrations every June.

In 1992, shortly after the pride parade in New York City, Johnson's body was found in the Hudson River. Her death was initially ruled as a suicide.

In this documentary, Cruz of the Anti-Violence Project, interviews witnesses, friends, other activists, as well as police who were part of the NYPD at the time of her death.

A Secret Love

Following a bittersweet love story, Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel were forced to keep their romance a secret from their families for 60 years.

The pair met in 1947 at the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League when the pair were 22 and 18 respectively.

Keeping their romance private for the safety of them, and their families, they came out to their remaining loved ones when Donahue was in her 90s and Henschel in her 80s.

Period: End of Sentence

In rural Hapur, just outside Dehli, India, women fight to de-stigmatise periods.

Creating their own means of production, the women not only liberate their menstruation by manufacturing their own period products, but they also create their own micro-economy in the process.

Surviving R.Kelly

This docu-series details the sexual abuse allegations made against American singer R. Kelly.

Produced by Dream Hampton, the accusers give their first-hand accounts of sexual and mental abuse.

The documentary prompted musicians who previously worked with the disgraced musician to condemn him and remove their collaborations with him from streaming platforms.

Knock Down The House

The day after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of The United States, Rachel Lears began reaching out to organisations to find "charismatic female candidates who weren't career politicians but had become newly galvanized to represent their communities."

After narrowing her search down, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin ran for congress in the 2018 elections with Ocasio-Cortez winning the election.

Seeing Allred

Directed by Roberta Grossman and Sophie Sartain, Seeing Allred is a 2018 documentary following Women's Rights attorney Gloria Allred as she takes on two of the biggest opponents of her career: Bill Cosby and Donald Trump.

Taking on cases of sexual violence allegations, the film provides a biography of the law powerhouse through interviews and archival footage.

Gaga: 5 foot 2

A 2017 documentary film about LGBTQ ally Lady Gaga during the production of her fifth album, Joanne.

Giving fans "unfiltered, behind-the-scenes access" to the pop superstar, the feature also documents Gaga's struggle with fibromyalgia.

Miss Representation

A 2011 documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation outlines the media's under-representation of women in influential positions by portraying women in a limited, and often a disparaging way.

Intertwining interviewees with teenage girls a well as prominent women who feature in the media such as Jane Fonda, Condoleezza Rice and Katie Couric, the film highlights the need for positive role models for young women.

Reversing Roe

Through interviews and archive footage, this 2018 documentary analyzes abortion laws in the United States as well as the 1973 case of Roe vs Wade which ruled that the American constitution protects a woman's right to chose to have an abortion if they so wish.

Feminists: What Were They Thinking?

A 2018 documentary by Johanna Demetrakas women from various walks of life are interviewed on the subject of feminism.

The film featuring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin to name but a few tackles topics such as identity, abortion, race, childhood and motherhood.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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