Strong Woman

After Anna Pierard welcomed Lizzie Marvelly to Hawke's Bay on stage at the first of a fantastic line up of readers and writes events, Marvelly looked at the audience, asked how many of us had a glass of wine and said she thought it was only fair she and Pierard joined us.

It was a fantastic way to start what proved to be an interesting, thought-provoking chat from two very strong women.

Marvelly is a columnist for the Herald and has an award winning blog

She encourages women to speak out about sexist attitudes. "I've been asked if I'm a feminist. What I am is a female - I don't like labels," she said.

She spoke openly about sexual advances made to her by much older men when she worked in the music industry and her feeling of helplessness.

Opera singer Pierard works with Project Prima Volta which mentors young people through music, and Festival Opera.

"The programme is not just for the underprivileged. It gives people opportunities that they would not otherwise have.

The beauty of music can help you focus. Opera gives you skills that you can use in other areas of your life."

The pair discussed social media and what an impact it had on our lives. Marvelly at 28, said she was trying to figure out a balance in her life with social media. "It's always there in the background. I couldn't tell you the last time I had a day without some sort of contact with social media."

Pierard laughed and said she felt like a "meathead" sometimes around young people and social media.

Both Marvelly and Pierard are strong woman who use their public platforms to enable young people to speak out on topics that have previously been taboo.

It's nice to know there are such strong role models for our youth.

■ There are at least 15 more readers and writers events during the festival. Don't miss the chance to have a conversation with writers, poets, artists and much more. Go to for the full line-up.

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