17 Empowering Movies and Documentaries to Inspire You This International Women's Day

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Hidden Figures
20th Century Fox

Women's History Month is the perfect time to learn about the powerful women who blazed trails and broke through glass ceilings to build us a better world. Though huge strides have been made, we still have quite a ways to go before we achieve equality between the sexes.

This disparity is extremely apparent in the movie industry. For example, in the history of the Academy Awards — which will have its 94th show later this month — only seven women have been nominated for Best Director, and only two women have won. Most women are still relegated to what the industry deems as appropriate positions like hair and makeup and costumes, though the fight to persevere continues daily.

If you're not sure where to start in your streaming, we're here to help. In honor of the groundbreaking women of history and film, we've rounded up a preliminary list of our favorite female-led and -created movies and documentaries. From eye-opening documentaries about some of the world's most inspiring women to fictional accounts of badass women who fight the status quo, our list is wide and varied. Stream everything from historical dramas about the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court to a documentary about former first lady Michelle Obama to a Beyoncé concert and much more.

Ahead, load up your queue with all these powerful movies and documentaries for International Women's Day today.

Learn about the incredible group of African American women at NASA, who helped launch astronaut John Glenn in this feel-good story based on real life events.


Learn about the face of the 1970s Women's Liberation Movement from Gloria Steinhem herself in this HBO documentary, which blends interviews, first-hand accounts and never-before-seen archival footage. Produced by Emmy-winning Peter Kunhardt and Sheila Nevins, this one is a must-watch for any women's history buff. 


Directed by Erica Gornall, this eye-opening documentary digs into The Saudi Women's Driving School, and how the freedom of getting behind the wheel has opened up a new way of life for Saudi Women since the women's ban on driving was lifted in 2017.


Follow teenage climate activist Greta Thunburg's whirlwind journey from shy student to global voice for change at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City in this extraordinary documentary from Swedish director Nathan Grossman.


From award-winning writer-director Lulu Wang comes the heartwarming story of Bili (Awkwafina), a young Chinese-American woman, who returns to China when her grandmother is given only a week to live. 


In this award-winning film from Hulu, discover how singer Billie Holiday, portrayed by Oscar-nominated actress Andra Day, was targeted by the government in an effort to racialize the war on drugs and how her controversial song, "Strange Fruit" plays a part. 


Get an inside look at one of the United States' most compelling First Ladies. The documentary, directed by Jordan Hill, shows a comprehensive view of Michelle Obama's life from her humble beginnings in Chicago, all the way to the White House and how she honed her voice as one of hope and optimism along the way. 

Annapurna Pictures

Watch Olivia Wilde's feature film debut about two high school BFFs, determined to pack the four years of social events they missed out on in their quest for attaining higher education into the night before graduation. Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, the movie is as hilarious as it is empowering. Grab your own bestie to watch this one for a girls' night in.

On the Basis of Sex
Focus Features

From powerhouse director Mimi Leder ('The Leftovers,' 'The Morning Show') comes the groundbreaking story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her appointment as the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. 


Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo star in this inspiring movie about a young girl from Uganda who discovers she's a chess superstar. 

A League of Their Own
Columbia Pictures

Enjoy the story of two sisters who play for the first professional women's baseball team. The star-studded cast, including Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Hanks, hits it out of the park; it's a must-watch for any sports fan.


Delve into the mystery of Marvel's Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and her complicated relationship with her younger sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) in this action-packed thriller.


Discover your inner fighter with this live-action retelling of one of China's greatest warriors. 


Follow the story of a Sacramento Catholic school girl who doesn't quite fit in, in this personal story written and directed by Sacramento-born Greta Gerwig. The semi-autobiographical film earned Gerwig a Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards, one of only seven women in history to garner such a nod. 


Elle Woods crashed onto our screens twenty years ago in a blur of pink and fuzzy and informed us that femininity doesn't have to be a hindrance to attaining your goals. Rewatch the movie this month and remember that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. Whether it be going to Harvard Law (what, like it's hard?) or running a marathon or something else, this feel-good film from the early 2000s reminds us we can do it all.


This is one group of women you don't want to underestimate. Follow Harley Quinn on her journey into singledom in this adventure-packed DC comic book movie directed by Cathy Yan. The film stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Rosie Perez.


Relive the Coachella concert of a lifetime in this up close and personal documentary of Beyoncé's 2018 headlining performance. 



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