Healing Gaia

Movies that Foster Gender Equity

These movies help move us closer to breaking down female stereotypes while creating a much more equitable image of women.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published January 15, 2015

It's cold outside! In fact that's an understatement. On days like this it's nice to stay inside. On nights like this it's great to have a home, some warm food, and a good movie to share. But, not just any movie.

I'd like to suggest some movies that have strong female role models. When girls and women play a leading role in plots it sends a positive message to viewers that women of all ages are strong, capable, intelligent individuals who make valuable contributions to every aspect of life.

The movies that I'm about to suggest help move us closer to breaking down female stereotypes while creating a much more equitable image of women.

Let's start with movies that are suitable for young children, teens and adults to share on a frosty night. Also, please encourage the boys and men in your life to take the time to enjoy these films with you and the women in your life.

The Whale Rider (2002) is a beautiful story filmed in New Zealand. We're introduced to Paikea, a 12 year old Maori girl who lives with her paternal grandparents. Paikea's mother died in childbirth causing her father so much grief that he exiled himself to Germany to work as an artist.

The leader of the village known as the Whale Rider has always been a direct patrilineal descendent of Paikea's family. Without a grandson to train for the role of leader, Paikea's grandfather becomes fatalistic regarding the survival of their village and way of life.

When Paikea shows interest in learning the traditions that historically have been reserved for the boys in the village her grandfather does not take it well, but when she out manoeuvers the boys then that's too much for him to bear.

It has a wonderful ending with strong portrayals from Paikea and her grandmother.

The Book Thief (2013) is a wonderful account of life as a child in Germany during the Second World War. With Death as the narrator, this movie weaves together many life stories. Nine-year-old Liesel is the thread that binds them all together.

When Liesel's mother can no longer care for her she is brought to live with an older childless couple in a small village. The year is 1939.

It's soon discover that Liesel is unable to read and she becomes the target of the school bully. Fortunately, Liesel has other talents and can take care of herself. Eventually, with the help of her new father, Liesel learns to read.

When her family hides a young Jewish man in their cellar, Liesel reads to him during the worst nights of his life and helps him return to the world of the living.

A story with many twists and turns but the constant is the strength of Liesel and her new mother.

Tracks (2013) is a film based on the true story of Robyn Davidson who set out on a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her loyal dog in 1977.

On her journey of self-discovery, she encounters National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, who helps document her journey in pictures as well as checking on Robyn periodically to ensure that she's safe and has enough water.

Fly Away Home (1996) is a film loosely based and adapted from the story of Bill Lishman, who successfully trained Canada geese to follow his ultralight aircraft to North Carolina.

Fly Away Home revolves around 14-year-old Amy, who must relocate from New Zealand to Ontario to live with her estranged father after her mother's sudden death. It's not long before Amy becomes a mother herself to a brood of Canada geese chicks that imprint on her.

Strong-willed Amy and her father realize that the survival of these birds depends on teaching them a migration route from Ontario to North Carolina. The solution is that Amy will pilot an ultralight aircraft to guide the birds to their winter home.

A League of Their Own (1992) is the fictional account of the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

When Major League Baseball is threatened by a shortage of male players, thanks to World War II, the corporate barons backing the league reluctantly agree to create a women's league.

56 young women are recruited and divided among four teams known as the Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets, South Bend Blue Sox, and Rockford Peaches - the main focus of the movie.

Needless to say, in a male-dominated sport such as baseball, backed by white corporate males, the women and their league have many hurdles to overcome, including societal expectations of the day, in order to establish themselves as true athletes.

It's extremely important to begin instilling in our children, from a very young age, that gender equity is a basic human right. These movies help us reach that goal in a fun and enjoyable way. I hope that you're able to add to this list over time.

In my next installment I'll give you reviews of movies suitable for teens and young adults. Till then, stay warm, stay healthy and keep working toward gender equity.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 13:18:06

Here's a pretty interesting portion of an interview with Olivia Wilde that has some gems about gender equity:


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By Flutterby (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 00:07:47

What a timely article; thanks for posting! I'm at teacher's college and we were studying gender equity in class today, while last week in Language Arts, we talked about using the movie Fly Away Home to introduce literature circles, so your article ties into these nicely.

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2015 at 09:30:55 in reply to Comment 107882

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted January 18, 2015 at 15:37:48

I had to share this video. It's not about movies, but it is connected to the ultimate goal of equity in a patriarchal world:


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