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Watch this Stunning South African Documentary Film 'Womanhood'

South African women from different walks of life speak about their experiences of womanhood through various lenses.

Womanhood is a short documentary film which is the result of a collaboration between South African insurer 1st For Women and digital media platform Vice. The short documentary features an array of South African women from different and diverse backgrounds speaking about what womanhood means to them. The documentary itself focuses on five important themes: freedom, body, pain, motherhood and future.


Womanhood begins with the theme of freedom and sees ordinary women describing what freedom is and how it looks like to them. While some women speak about having the freedom to express themselves, others want resources to be able to design how they spend their time. A shared desire, however, is the freedom to be safe—safe enough to not be harassed when walking on the street and safe enough to wear anything they want without fear. In a country where femicide and alarming gender-based violence continue to rise, this desire is one shared by women across the board.

READ: Koleka Putuma's New Poem Speaks to South Africa's Femicide Crisis

As the documentary progresses, the audience is introduced to other themes. A young Indian woman explains how at the age of 32, her family feels they have failed because she's not married and doesn't already have kids, in spite of her three university degrees. She describes her parents by saying, "It doesn't bother me as much as it bothers them but what does bother me is that it bothers them so much." An older Colored women shares her experience of having been gang raped when she was younger. "We teach our daughters to be safe but we don't teach our sons not to rape," she says.

What is brilliantly shown in this documentary, and where many others have fallen short, is just how diverse the spectrum of womanhood is. It doesn't limit it to archetypes or dominant and mainstream narratives—every woman has an opportunity to tell her own story in her own way. From the professional soccer player who's struggling to make ends meet in a sport where male players are held in higher esteem, the young Muslim woman trying to navigate the intersectionality of her religion and sexuality, to the woman who has to fight off stereotypes about what a mechanic ought to look like.

It's not an easy task to successfully document a range of varied experiences in a little over twenty minutes but Womanhood does just that.

Watch the documentary below:

WOMANHOOD youtu.be

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Photo by RAVEENDRAN/AFP via Getty Images

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