TODAY, the Glasgow Times reveals our four fabulous finalists for Young Scotswoman of the Year 2021.
The winner is up to you – the public vote is now open.
To register your vote, visit www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/young-swoty/ and simply click on the box beside the name of the young woman you would like to win. Voting is free, and closes on March 24. The winner will be announced on March 31, along with the winner of our Scotswoman of the Year award – don’t miss tomorrow’s Glasgow Times for details of the six spectacular women who are on the shortlist.
First up for Young Scotswoman of the Year 2021 are climate activist Tess Corcoran and champion fundraiser Mariya Javed.
HARDWORKING activist Tess Corcoran is one of the driving forces behind a campaign to teach young people about the climate crisis.
The 18-year-old, from Perthshire, is a founding member and campaign co-ordinator of Teach the Future in Scotland, which aims to have climate education embedded in the curriculum.
Tess is so passionate about the cause, she has even postponed her own plans to go to university to concentrate on the campaign.
“I left school last year and have a retail job on the side just now, but I want to focus on Teach the Future for now,” she adds. “I plan to study geography and social policy next year – I don’t know where I’ll go with that eventually, but I think it will be into something very similar to what I’m doing now.”
Teach the Future is campaigning for training for teachers to make sure they are comfortable and confident about teaching students about the climate crisis.
“We want climate education included in every subject on the curriculum, not just geography or science,” says Tess, who lives in Glenfarg with her parents, Tara and Tim and sister Freya, 19.
“We are also campaigning for all educational buildings to be made climate-friendly by retrofitting them to net-zero emissions by 2030, and for a school’s commitment to climate education to be part of the inspection process.”
Tess first attended a school climate strike, the movement originated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, in the spring of 2019.
“I went along with some friends as I was curious to see what it was like and I was so inspired by everyone there,” she explains. “They really cared about what they were doing and it made me realise how important it was. I looked into the climate emergency a bit more and I learned a lot, and understood why so many people my age are so passionate about it.
“And I have been involved ever since. I never imagined it would take over my life in the way that it has, but I am glad it did.”
After a year and a half volunteering with the school strike movement Fridays for Future, helping to organise an education day and working groups in schools, the opportunity to join Teach the Future came along.
“They had been running in England for a while, and they reached out to us to see if we’d set up a sister campaign in Scotland, and I really jumped at the chance,” smiles Tess.
“Generally, we have a good response from all of the four main parties in the Scottish Government – we have had discussions with the Education Secretary, and it’s been really successful.”
She adds: “I would never have imagined I’d be doing this, talking to politicians, having meetings with the Education Secretary.
“I have definitely changed as a person since I started doing this. I am so much more confident. I feel like I can do this, and do it well.”
Tess adds with a laugh: “It feels surreal to be nominated for Young Scotswoman of the Year, but I’m really honoured. If it inspires other young women to get involved in things that matter to them that’s great.
“My advice to any young person is follow your passion. If you care about something, do something about it but always make sure you take care of yourself while you’re doing it.”
Mariya, who is from Elderslie in Renfrewshire, has been dedicated to fundraising and helping other people since her big brother Ahmar died five years ago.
“It’s a sad thing that happened to me and my family, but doing this helps other people, and that helps me too,” says the inspirational 12-year-old, who has another brother, Ayaan, who is three.
Ahmar was born with the condition arteriovenous malformation which meant his blood vessels and veins were tangled. It had been undiagnosed until he suffered a bleed on the brain at karate practice in April 2017. He passed away ten days later, aged just 13.
Determined to keep his memory alive, Mariya has worked tirelessly to raise money for the tribute fund Another Star in the Sky, set up by her parents, Sameena and Mohammad, in association with Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.
She has helped raise more than £16,500 for research into rare conditions and to fund bereavement support services.
READ MORE: ‘I want to keep on helping people’ – Young SWOTY Amanda Amaeshi on what winning meant to her
Mariya has taken part in every Glasgow Kiltwalk since 2017, and has volunteered at many pop-up shops and bucket collections.
She is also a young ambassador for the Miracle Foundation, a Motherwell-based charity which supports young people who have suffered bereavement and trauma. Throughout all of this, she has grieved for her beloved brother, and bravely shares her story in the hope she can help others.
“I’m really happy to be shortlisted for Young Scotswoman of the Year although I’m very surprised,” she says. “I’m happy it will help give our charity recognition, so I can keep helping other people.”