Debate Training for Middle School Girls

My name is Meghan, and I am a Program Associate at BALI. I was a trainee, then I was an intern, and now I am an official staff person (cool, right?). One big part of my job is to make sure that our BALI girls, and girls all over New York have access to meeting savvy women leaders, and helping design programs that allow girls grow into the leaders they were born to be by providing them opportunities that support confidence and expand their skill sets! As you all know, our own lady leader at BALI, Liz Abzug, is a firm believer in formal debate training as a pathway to enhancing public speaking abilities, critical thinking, professional writing, research, and other skills that support civic success.

And girls, she is right!

Our collaboration with the New York City Urban Debate League (NYCUDL) makes all of this possible. Before I was trained at BALI, I thought I had no place in political life and formal debate, but now I represent our great organization and all of the incredible things the young women of BALI are doing to better themselves and their communities to diplomats and leaders from around the world!

In an effort to continually expand our network of femininjas, BALI co-hosted our annual Springtime One-Day Debate Training just for Middle School girls at the Hunter College Silbermen graduate center on March 23, 2015.

Our new BALI girls spent the morning eating breakfast and getting to know each other; we trained over 100 girls from 11 different schools. Some of the girls have debate teams at their school, and other girls have never debated before (that use to me before I came to BALI). The girls mentored each other and worked as teams to compete!

 Before we started the debating rounds, we convened an exceptional panel to learn about the debate topic resolution: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The ERA states that Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

 Girls, you are not protected as WOMEN under the Constitution of the United States! It sounds crazy, but today in 2015, this still stands true.  

Liz Abzug invited BALI supporters Jean Bucaria, Deputy Director, National Organization for Women – NYC and Minna Elias, New York Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, where she runs the Congresswoman’s New York offices and oversees casework and constituent outreach to lead the discussion on the ERA. Both women spoke about the work they do everyday politically and socially to ensure the ERA is ratified and women are protected fully and under the Constitution of the United States.

The most important message we learned during the panel discussion, while talking to our peers and teachers during lunch, and during the debate rounds is that the future of the United States and the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is up to girls. Girls are the future.