The Girls Debate League


The New York City Urban Debate League founded the first girls debate league in the nation. This was brought about by several of our young women debaters coming together and proposing their own topics for tournaments rather than following the traditional “national topics.”

The Girls Debate League is founded not simply as just a competitive debate league, but as a holistic program of debate education which offers leadership preparation, women’s issues study, guest speakers, youth empowerment, advocacy training, skills, and other content area. One of its goals is to provide the one of the best educational opportunities for women of all ages. Debate tournaments and awards are not the end but the means to equip future generations with the skills to be our leaders of today and tomorrow.

Girls Debate League Program Calendar


 Each month at our monthly debate tournaments, we have a break out workshop for all young women who are interested in The Girls Debate Program. The workshop features guest speakers on women’s issues, discussions, and debates among our students. There are also leadership seminars, as well as special programs like public speaking competitions, poetry competitions and writing competitions. Our participants vote for the topics of the upcoming tournaments at these meetings.


The Girls Debate Program features day long tournaments in the Fall and Spring semesters. We often host these tournaments in partnership with the Bella Azbug Leadership Institute at Hunter College. The mornings include workshops with discussions and leadership skills. The afternoons include debates. The goal is to introduce all our young women to public speaking, debate skills, techniques, as well as college, career, and leadership prep.


The Women’s Tournament of Championship (WTOC) is the culminating event at the end of the year. This debate for all ages which is invitational on topics selected by our young women. This is a two day event, with multiple days of debate, workshops, meetings, and an opening ceremony with dinner for all participants.


During the first two weeks of August we host The Girls Summer Debate Institute. This program includes morning lectures and afternoon lab sessions in small groups. Students are introduced to all the debate formats at the high school and college levels – policy debate, parliamentary debate and public forum debate. The program also includes tours and guest speakers of some of the leading women’s organizations in the city.


Our debate programs are for women of all ages. We work with young women, college students, women returning to complete college, formerly incarcerated women, senior citizens – and everyone who is interested in debating and discussing current events and politics as well as just learning public speaking skills.


During the year we also host special events which includes invitational tournaments, public debates, guest speakers and seminars.