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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 debaters coming together to provide additional opportunities for female debaters as well as challenge stereotypes and sexism in the traditional debate community. Historically, there is a substantial gender gap in scholastic debate which increases in high school and higher education to the point that the vast majority of college student debaters are male. Girls Debate is founded to change that. The result is that in the New York City Urban Debate League there are more females than males participating in debate. 

The Girls Debate League is founded not simply as just a competitive debate league, but as a holistic program of debate education which offers workshops, meetings, mentors, leadership preparation, women’s issues study, guest speakers, youth empowerment, advocacy training, skills, and other content area. We also partner with incredible community organizations such as the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute which offers one of the most powerful summer leadership and debate programs for youth.

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.


Sign Up Below for our Bi-Monthly Girls Debate Workshops, Tournaments and Awards Ceremony. Contact us at if interested in joining our Girls Debate Planning Committee for Bi-Monthly Planning Meetings/Calls

Girls Debate League Events

Girls Debate League Workshops: these workshops are open to High School and Middle School students. Workshops emphasize debate skills instructions as well as conversations and panels around identity, leadership, and empowerment. 
Girls Debate Leadership Council: these are evening meetings for high school, alumni, adults, college students and other volunteers supporting the Girls Debate League. We work on planning on the girls debate league monthly workshops and tournaments. High School students also form our YLC (Youth Leadership Council). 
Girls Debate League Tournaments: these are a series of all girls debate tournaments hosted by the NYC Urban Debate League and partners. 


 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.