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BALI News and Events


July 2010

BALI and IMPACT Coalition Summer Debate Training 2010

Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI) will be offering an intensive two-week debate training program for New York City high school girls from August 9-21, Monday thru Saturday, 9-4pm at Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.


All of the training will be conducted by our urban debate training partner, the Impact Coalition.


We will be offering the training at no cost to selected female candidates.

Qualified and nationally recognized instructors will provide hands-on skills development and instruct the students in the following program components:

large and small group sessions to improve speaking skills, general debate theory, and preparing topic-specific research. Trainees will participate in mock debate rounds.


To apply, please complete the following forms:

Debate Training 2010 Application Form (click here to download)

Citi Release and Certification Form (click here to download)


Applicants may email Yu Wai at mmaun@hunter.cuny.edu or yuwai@abzuginstitute.org for further information. Completed applications and release/certification forms may be faxed to 212-396-6505.

April 2010

BALI 2nd Annual Awards Fundraiser — The Bella Award and Bella-Fella Award


Of course students and moderate income supporters will also be welcome at a much reduced fee.

You can contribute and pay to attend this event by going to the Donate page on our web site and paying by any credit card on PayPal. Or you can reserve a
ticket(s) for the event by leaving your name and number on our BALI event event reservation line: 212-346-9699.



June 2008
New York Citywide High School Debate Competition for Girls


On June 8, we hosted a “Citywide BALI Leaders of Tomorrow” debate competition at the Beacon School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Five New York City Public High School girls debating teams squared off in a day long series of very exciting and competitive rounds of debate.

The two resolutions that were debated:

          1)  Does the internet expand the gap between men and women in society?

          2)  Has sexism played a big part in the Presidential campaign primaries and in                          the media coverage?


The finalists and winning debate team was from the New York City High School of Innovation and Cooperative Education (ICE).

The winners received two prizes:

Gift Certificates to Best Buy electronics and BALI’s commitment to treat the winning team to a restaurant of their choice.

We also had the very great honor and fortune of having our BALI girls and team competitors filmed for an upcoming one hour special, Women and Power, which will be aired on PBS television on the program NOW PBS across the United States on September 16th and at 8:30 pm in the New York tri-state area. Award winning Senior Correspondent for PBS Maria Hinojosa interviewed several of the girl debate teams and the girls individually. She asked the girls what it meant to them to be considered a leader, how they got involved in debating and what they hoped to do with their lives in the future.

BALI President Liz Abzug also asked Ms. Hinojosa to speak to the girls as a mentor and to share with them how she became a television journalist, as well as what ideas she could give the girls to pursue future leadership roles and professions.



In The News



Liz Abzug Named One Of The 21 Leaders For The 21st Century 2008 By Women's E-News

Liz Abzug, Sculptor of Living Monuments

Run Date: 12/24/07

By Sarah Seltzer
WeNews correspondent

Liz Abzug decided that a monument was not enough to honor her mother, pioneering feminist and beloved New York City Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who died in 1998. She wanted a living tribute to continue her work and "pass it on to the next generation."

With a colleague Abzug designed a leadership training institute to give young women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds the tools "to achieve the dynamic leadership skills of my mother."

Abzug felt there was a lack of outspoken, courageous female voices in the public sector, so the first program of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute was a two-week session for New York City high school girls to learn about political and issue advocacy, debating skills, researching and how to deliver a speech, and not-for-profit management. After two weeks of training, the trainee participants from several different New York City public high schools compete in a city-wide high school debate competition.

The Institute's intense focus on giving back sets it apart from other enrichment and leadership programs and is the first aimed specifically at female teens, Abzug says. Young women return to their schools and communities to hold forums on everything from housing to education policy. "We want to see them follow through as emerging leaders in their own communities as well as in society at large."

The Institute recently launched a mentoring system for the trainees and is developing paid internships for them to build on their new skills.

Many of the young women who enter the Institute know there is something unfair or un-equitable about their lives, Abzug says. Their experiences provide "a concrete idea of what gender discrimination is and that there's triple discrimination against women of color."

In November 2007, Abzug hosted the Freedom on Our Terms conference in New York to mark the 30th anniversary of the original National Women's Conference in 1977. More than 650 women and girls of all ages from 8 to 90 years old, and from all races, religions and backgrounds from 21 different states, attended the two-day conference. Abzug says it was deeply moving to watch young women become inspired and realize how important it is for them to pick up the mantle of leadership as well as to watch older women get excited about reigniting the fight for true gender equality.

"Young women need to assume their roles as the next generation of 21st century leaders," Abzug says. "They should never be afraid to ask for a seat at the table."

Original article

Recent Events

Freedom Conference Summary

The Freedom on Our Terms, National Women and Girls Conference was held on November 10th and 11th, 2007 at Hunter College. BALI served as the lead organizer and host of this truly intergenerational conference. By the accounts of many of the participants and attendees' evaluations, the two day conference and the pop rock Freedom concert, was a terrific success. Many of the young high school and college girls who participated said it had a "life altering impact" on them.

Over 625 women and girls of all races, ages, (from 8 years old to 90), religions and backgrounds coming from 21 States attended. More than 70 national and local women's and girls' organizations endorsed our conference. The older feminists who attended said that the conference re-ignited their faith and spirit to fight for and achieve full equal rights for women in the 21st century. Many Conference attendees and other observers suggested and hoped that the National Women and Girls Freedom conference, be held annually or bi-annually. Stay tuned!

"The  National Plan of Action: Then and Now" document which was created at the request of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and other conference organizers, and was written by BALI Board member Lala Wu and Columbia University graduate student Kate Collier, outlines the progress or lack thereof of the 26 planks plan of action which constituted a National action agenda for women, that came out of the Houston '77 conference. The report contains comparative and up to date data on Economic Justice, Education, Women in Elective and Appointive Office, The Equal Rights Amendment, Media, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Violence Against Women. A copy of this report is downloadable on our Web site.

Also, in the final Open Forum session of the National Women's and Girls conference, attendees suggested that we communicate our major concerns regarding the lack of progress for women and girls in a number of areas to all of the Presidential candidates. Below you will see the specific concerns raised with respect to women and girls full equality in the 21st century.


Summary of Conference Priority Issues for Achieving Full Equality for Women and Girls

On November 10th and 11th, the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI) sponsored an intergenerational Conference entitled Freedom on Our Terms to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the National Women's Conference (Houston '77) and create a 21st Century Agenda for Action for Women and Girls.  We are pleased to say that over 600 people from 21 states attended the Freedom on Our Terms Conference and over 70 women's and girls' organizations endorsed it.  Attached you will find a document distributed at the Conference as an overview of the status of American women in 1977 and in 2007, The National Plan of Action: Then and Now, co-authored by Lala Wu and Kate Collier.  Sadly, it confirms the lack of fundamental progress in achieving full equality and justice for American women and girls.  The facts clearly show that:

·         One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime and one in six women will be the victim of sexual assault;

·         Women today earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes;

·         Among the world's parliaments, the United States ranks number 68 with only 16.3% women members;

·         185 countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the United States is NOT one of them;

·         The United States has failed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment which would ensure full equality for women under the Constitution;

·         In 2007, the United States Supreme Court reversed 30 years of precedent to eliminate protection for women's health in abortion procedures; and

·         The poorest group in this nation is older women.


These are only a few powerful examples of the continuing discrimination that limits the potential and possibilities of over half this Nation's population.  Those attending the Freedom on Our Terms Conference demand full equality for women and girls in our lifetimes and we ask what specific steps you will take as President to end sex discrimination on every level and under every category?  What will you do to see that the Equal Rights Amendment finally becomes part of the United States Constitution?  What will you do to ensure that the United States ratifies the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women?  What will you do to protect reproductive freedom rights for all women?  What will you do to provide fully affordable and accessible health care for every person in this country?  What will you do to support Caregivers, the overwhelming majority of whom are women, as they take care of the frailest among us?  What will you do to end the terrorism of rape, incest and domestic violence against women and girls?  What will you do to make equal pay for equal work real?  What will you do to expand nontraditional work opportunities for women as well as help blast through the glass ceiling that limits women's advancement?  What will you do to preserve and expand Title IX?  What will you do to help the nation understand the interconnections of oppression, so that sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism and all the other forms of discrimination are part of the same fight?  What will you do to see that every little girl born in this nation has the same chance of fulfilling her dreams and potential as does every little boy?  We look forward to receiving your answers to these important questions which reflect the concerns of the majority of the electorate. Signed by The Freedom Conference Organizers.


Freedom on Our Terms: A New Agenda for Women and Girls 30 Years after the National Women's Conference

(held on November 10-11, 2007 in New York City)


 Program Summary

We guarantee that you have never attended a Conference quite like this one. Because we start from an historical base that includes lessons learned from Seneca Falls in 1848, Mexico City in 1975, Houston in 1977, Copenhagen in 1980, Nairobi in 1985, and Beijing in 1995, we have traveled far beyond the necessity of discussing if Women's Equality will occur because we know it must if this world is to survive. We start from an activist's perspective that refuses to be diverted by those interested in promoting and prolonging discrimination against women and girls. In the words of the National Women's Conference, we are here to "move history forward" and we will do so at breathtaking speed. Fasten your seatbelts because when we say "Freedom on Our Terms," we mean just that.

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposed at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention "that it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to elective franchise," how could she have guessed that it would take seventy-two more years of fierce struggle before women won the right to vote?  When Alice Paul unveiled the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, how could she have guessed that eight and a half decades were destined to pass without adoption of the ERA and its constitutional guarantee of full equality for women?  When women from across the country, led by Bella Abzug, met at the 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston, how could we foresee that thirty years later so many of the resolutions in the National Plan of Action would still be unfulfilled?  When the United States still refuses to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, what does that say to the international community about how serious this country views sex discrimination?  When women today still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, how much longer will it take to achieve equal pay for equal work?  When 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime and one in six women will be the victim of sexual assault, how long will that terror continue?   When a recent report on women in the world's parliaments ranks the United States as number 68 with 16.3% women members, it's clear how many nations are far ahead of us in recognizing women's leadership. When in 2007 the United States Supreme Count reverses 30 years of precedent to eliminate protection for women's health in abortion procedures, how much longer will it be until Roe v. Wade is totally overturned?  How many more generations of women will have to keep fighting for equality on these and other issues?  The time is now. We demand full equality for women in our lifetimes and on our terms. We must fight back with a new 21st Century Agenda for Action for women and girls.

For those unaware of the lessons of history or the statistics of present oppression, let us refer you to the groundbreaking work of women historians who show us how to rethink the past and reshape the future. Let us also urge you to read the never-ending series of reports and studies stacking up on shelves all over the world that document the oppression of women and girls. Recent reports like "The World's Women 2005: Progress in Statistics" by the United Nations Statistics Division, "Women, Work and Poverty" by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, "Women and Health Coverage: The Affordability Gap" by the National Women's Law Center and the information from the "Because I Am a Girl" Campaign in Britain (which estimates that nearly 100 million girls die each year because males are more valued in their countries) are especially relevant.

We have studied such documents all our lives. Now it's time to ACT. Since this is the first National Conference for women and girls, we offer a truly intergenerational approach. Since this is one of the only Conferences to ask each participant to submit a questionnaire along with her registration, we have a head start in formulating recommendations for action. Since in the span of little more than two days, we will offer roundtable discussions, plenary sessions, videos, oral histories, interactive components, workshops, issue caucuses, music and receptions—this Conference will require all the stamina and spirit the attendees can muster. In return, we offer you, as Jill Ruckelshaus said at the 1977 National Women's Conference: "Your pride in being a woman...your future and a certain knowledge that at the end of your days you will be able to look back and say that once in your life you gave everything you had for justice."

Some of our major conference endorsers include:

American Association of University Women-New York Chapter
Asian Americans for Equality
Barnard Center for Research on Women
Center for Advancement of Women
Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College
Center for Women Policy Studies
Code Pink
Girls Learn International Inc.
Hunter Women's Center
Legal Momentum
Living Beyond Belief
Minnesota Women’s Consortium
Ms. Foundation for Women
National Conference of Puerto Rican Women
National Council for Research on Women
National Organization for Women
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust
The Feminist Majority
The National Women’s History Project
The Transition Network
The Third Wave Foundation
The White House Project
The Women’s Media Center
Veteran Feminists of America
Women in Learning and Leadership (Will Program) at the College of New Jersey
Women's City Club of NY
Women’s Environmental and Development Organization (WEDO)
Carole Artigiani, Founder and President Global Kids Inc.
Carol Bellamy
Captain Brenda Berkman, (ret.) Fire Department New York
Gale Brewer, New York City Council Member
Karen Burstein
Ellen Chesler
Gracia Molina Pick
Barbara Ehrenreich
Gloria Feldt
Kamala Harris, District Attorney, San Francisco
Mary Lynn W. Hopps, Director, Women in Learning and Leadership-
College of New Jersey
Robin Morgan
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Anna Quindlen
Ms. Attallah Shabazz
Gloria Steinem

Looking Forward to 2008

We look forward to a busy year of organizing and collaboration with our partners to build on the success of the Freedom on Our Terms Conference of November 2007 as well as our past High School Debate Trainings and Competitions. We are also hard at work to create an innovative leadership training program for college age young women. We are also exploring collaborations with corporations, not for profit organizations and government in terms of mentorship and peer counseling programs as well as international linkages with girls and women around the world.

We are driven forward by the belief that, as former Representative Bella Abzug used to say, “women will change the nature of power rather than power changing the nature of women” and that “it will be the young women who will lead the way in the 21st century.”

As an adjunct professor at Barnard College/Columbia University, BALI President Liz Abzug developed and taught a new undergraduate level course offered to Barnard and Columbia students for the first time last fall, entitled "Women and Leadership," which concentrated on the 20th and 21st centuries. This "case studies" course studied significant women leaders in politics, business, media, journalism and the military, in both the United States and internationally. Liz will be teaching this course again in fall 2008 to Barnard College and Columbia University students, and encourages BALI high school debate trainees to come up to Barnard College to meet with students in the course to forge on-going peer relationships.

Help Change a Young Gal’s Life

We are always interested in recruiting dynamo interns and mentors/career sponsors to inspire and engage our young dynamic BALI “leaders of tomorrow.” If you would like to take on this challenge, one that will have a life-altering effect on a young woman’s life as well as your own, please contact Liz Abzug, President and Director of BALI, at www.abzuginstitute.org or 212-650-3071. Please encourage others who may be interested to contact us as well. Talented professionals have offered to be involved as trainers and mentors but we are always like to expand our network and talent pool to reach all of our trainees.


Prior BALI Programs


BALI Leaders of Tomorrow Debate Competition

In August of 2006, BALI debate program graduates participated in a citywide high school debate competition. Students from numerous New York City high schools debated complex issues such as the right to reproductive choice, rap music’s portrayal of women, women in combat roles, and community service as a requirement for high school students. Volunteer judges professionals representing politics, government, academia and advocacy evaluated the team’s arguments and assessed their advocacy and tactical skills.

Please check back for updated information about the next Citywide high school debate competition in 2007-2008, and please contact us for more information about debate trainings.



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