Every year, we see a spate of movies that are made by women, for women, being released all over the world. 2021 was no different. From action movies that centre on lead female characters to dramas that focus on the emotional ride every woman, no matter what her background, goes throughwe have seen it all this year. A big highlight this year was the sheer number of diverse women we saw on screen. Even though the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic made theatre releases few and far between, OTT platforms did a brilliant job of delivering these stories to our homes. Heres what you should know.What Is Feminism?While many are still confused about what feminism is in this day and age, only one thing remains at its focus: Equality of the sexes. Feminism is not one movement, but many. It encompasses all social and ideological movements that seek to establish an equal playing field between genders instead of letting one gender and its needs dominate all others. By striving to gain social, political, economic and personal equality for people of all genders, feminism hopes to create a global atmosphere where the experiences, identities, knowledge and strengths of every individualno matter what their gender or sexual identitycan be utilised to their greatest potential.Why Feminism Is ImportantBy levelling the playing field for all genders, feminism ensures that every gender gets the same opportunities to succeed in life. This is the primary reason why feminism holds immense value and importance even today. Additionally, it is important to understand that patriarchy affects everyone negatively, not just women. The boundaries of behaviour, ambition and action patriarchy places on all genders (yes, even men) can limit ones potential. Feminism is important because it teaches us to transcend those limits in both thought and practice.Feminism for women, in particular, has helped those across the world break the glass ceiling in almost every field of work, whether its finance, politics, business or education. Over the last few decades, feminism has helped create a global movement to increase the participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. In the entertainment industry, the last decade itself has seen a lot of progress thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and Times Up!, which helped women working in the industry reclaim spaces and raise their voices.It is clearly the effect of the last point that has changed the way we view the entertainment industry today. The Bechdel test for examplewhich asks people to consider if a movie has more than one female character, and if the women talk about anything other than men and romancehas become widely used to analyse if a movie or show is feminist or not. With women filmmakers and writers winning multiple awards all over the world, and with women-led movies making more of a mark worldwide, this change is quite welcome, empowering and all thanks to feminism.How You Can Be A FeministThere are perhaps a million ways to be a true feminist, and none of them are wrong as long as you are being true to yourself and not harming anybody elses right to equality. Here are a few steps you might want to consider: Love yourself for the person you are, no matter what your gender. With self-love and acceptance alone can you embark on a journey to truly feel equal to others. Dont let your actions be determined by your gender. Even if people tell you that someone from your gender should not be doing the thing that you are, listen to your heart and brain instead of these stereotypes. Respect your choices and those of others, no matter what your gender or theirs. Empower women around you and those around the world by raising your voice in support. You can also support women through your actions. Unlearn and educate yourself about feminist. We live in a patriarchal, sexist world where our views and behaviours are shaped in a certain way from childhood. We need to unlearn these behaviours and educate ourselves to do better as feminists. Know your privilege, acknowledge it and realise how other peoples lack of the same privilege can create impediments for them. Once you recognise this inequality, youll be better equipped to address it.15 Feminist Movies You Should WatchHere is a list of 15 feminist movies from 2021 that should be on your must-watch list before the year ends.1. Sherni: Starring Vidya Balan in the lead role, this movie highlights issues like wildlife and forest conservation. The entire movie shows the perspective of a female forest officer and the tigress she sets out to protect. A powerful statement on the problems women in a predominantly outdoor workplace face, Sherni was one of the most prominent women-oriented movies this year.2. Skater Girl: Directed by Manjari Makijany, this movie tells the story of a teenaged girl from rural India who has a deep passion for skateboarding. An unusual coming of age story, Skater Girl highlights the obstacles women in India face to make their dreams come true.3. Cruella: Can a villain hated by generations of kids make for a movie lead character you can empathise with? Cruella, starring Emma Stone, says yes. The movie explores the motivations and evolution of the villain, Cruella De Ville, who we all know from the 101 Dalmatians fame.4. Pagglait: When a recently wed woman is widowed, what do her grief and future look like? Pagglait, starring Sanya Malhotra, explores the nuances of how women can create a sense of self and overcome the deepest losses in life.5. Pitta Kathalu: Anthologies are quickly becoming the norm in India, and Pitta Kathalu is a brilliant entry in 2021. Two of the short stories, Ramula and Meera, focus entirely on women, while a third, Pinky, revolves around a woman. This Telugu-language anthology is a must-watch.6. The Lost Daughter: A project led by Maggie Gyllenhaal, starring amazing actors like Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnsonyes, this one is surely a biggie. Visualising an unexpected side of motherhood, middle age and youth, this one is all set to make for a brilliant watch.7. Spencer: There are perhaps too many stories about Lady Diana Spencer, but this one takes a different approach, making Spencer refreshing and unusual. Starring Kirsten Stewart in the lead role, this movie explores the life of the Peoples Princess at a time when she was contemplating getting a divorce while battling mental health issues.8. Thunder Force: Imagine childhood best friends turn into a superhero duo, and you might only think of Captain America and Bucky Barnes. Thunder Force changes that by introducing you to Melissa McCarthy as Lydia and Octavia Spencer as Emily. As women who dont fit into the slim and sexy look of regular female superheroes, these actors bring in a lot to the idea of what our superheroes can look and fight like.9. Moxie: Sexism is everywhere, and calling it out is critical. Moxie, directed by Amy Poehler, explores this theme by having a 16-year-old lead character start a zine that highlights the sexism rampant in her high school. Nuanced and hard-hitting, Moxie talks about friendship, sisterhood, and feminism.10. Single Mother By Choice: Based on writer Selina Ringels true story, Single Mother By Choice narrates the trials and tribulations of a single LatinX woman who is ready for pregnancy but not for marriageor for COVID-19 for that matter. Apart from talking about an issue, not many explore, the story also touches upon the Black Lives Matter movement.11. Passing: Based on a 1929 novel by Nella Larson, Passing talks about the friendship of two African-American women, one of whom is light-skinned enough to pass off as White. A touchy subject explored with care, Passing sheds light on racism and womens lives in America.12. El Planeta: This Spanish mother-daughter story falls under the genre of absurdist comedy, which, if you havent explored yet, you must. Helmed by director Amalia Ulman, the movie is loosely based on the real-life mother-daughter petty-crimes duo, Justina and Ana Belen.13. Cinderella: A career-oriented Cinderella, an LGBTQIA+ Fabulous Godmother, and a princess who inherits the crown instead of the charming princethis instalment of Cinderella was not everyones cup of tea, but did a fairly good job of giving the old fairytale a feminist touch.14. The Colony: Also known as Tides, The Colony is set in a dystopian future where humanity is wiped off the earth, and a female elite astronaut from a human colony must decide the fate of the rest of humanity. Though underrated, this movie is a great entry in the sci-fi genre in 2021.15. Black Widow: You might think of this Marvel biggie as a movie about the superhero Natasha Romanoff, but actually, at its core, this one talked about sisterhood, a sense of family, and leaving a legacy that hopes to free more women from being utilised by propagandists and politicians.Things You Should Learn From Feminist MoviesMovies are often inspired by real-life events from the past, stories you expect from events happening today, and an imagination of events that may transpire in the future. In that sense, every movie has a lot to teach you, because even the most romantic stories send an underlying message or depict relationships that may affect your outlook in life. So, choosing the right thing to watch is very important. Here are a few things that watching feminist movies can teach you. There is no set stereotype for women, no matter what patriarchy says. No two women may be completely alike, and thats okay. Powerful women need not be masculine to stand tall and proud among men. They can be successful on the basis of their merits, and gender doesnt matter here. Romance with a straight man isnt all there is in a womans world. Her relationships with other women, whether its her mother, her best friend or a villain in her life, are just as important. Women are perfectly capable of taking charge of situations and projects. The damsel in perpetual distress doesnt really exist in real life. Sexism is everywhere, whether its a high school or a forest reserve. Calling it out is important to change things for the better.ConclusionFeminist movies are essentially movies that focus on representing womens issues, whether its love, career or anything else, through a womens lens or perspective. These movies accept the lack of privilege and disempowerment that women often feel, and strive to empower them through a motivating narrative. Often, these movies also provide hope for a dystopian future. In this sense, everyone, no matter what their gender, should watch feminist movies to know more about the world we live in and how to improve it for the better for those whose voices are unheard, whose stories are untold, and whose lives are marginalised.