Winning the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Today, leading national work-family justice organization A Better Balance released a new report, "Winning The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," detailing the inside story on the decade-long movement for passage of this groundbreaking new civil rights law and imparting lessons learned for fellow advocates, grassroots organizers, lawmakers, congressional staff, and the public seeking to advance progressive workplace rights.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which passed at the end of 2022 in the omnibus spending package and goes into effect on June 27th, requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant and postpartum workers to continue working while protecting their health, and is the most significant civil rights victory our country has seen in decades.

"The passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will truly change the health and economic trajectory for millions of women and families, and its significance as a political victory should be regarded as a roadmap for other campaigns for years to come. Policy wins to create more just workplaces and advance gender, racial, and economic justice in this country are possible," said A Better Balance Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst. "We are so grateful for the hard work of dedicated legislative champions, the women who shared their stories of pregnancy discrimination and demanded better, and the hundreds of organizations and individuals who never gave up."

Passing a major piece of civil rights legislation in a heavily partisan and divided Congress took over a decade of savvy advocacy, sustained pressure, and movement-building. In the report, A Better Balance shares key tactics and strategies that led to this victory in the final moments of the 2022 legislative session, including:

- Centering workers' voices as experts and leaders on the devastating impact of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

- Making progress in the states with the passage of over two dozen state pregnant workers fairness laws

- Gaining support from the business community, including with a robust and strategic partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

- Building a broad coalition and engaging diverse stakeholders, including labor, maternal health, women's rights, civil rights, and faith groups

As the report highlights, laws are only meaningful if workers know their rights and can exercise them. The next challenge that lies ahead is to implement, enforce, and educate the public about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. A Better Balance's free, confidential work-family legal helpline will be available to directly assist pregnant and postpartum workers with questions about their rights under the law.

ABOUT A BETTER BALANCE: A Better Balance is a national nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing justice for workers, so they can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their economic security. Its expert legal team combats discrimination against pregnant workers and caregivers, and advances supportive policies for families like paid sick time, paid family and medical leave, fair scheduling, and accessible, quality childcare and eldercare.

In 2012, A Better Balance launched the movement for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and has led the decade-long campaign for its passage. A Better Balance Co-President Dina Bakst testified twice in Congress in support of the legislation, first in 2019 and then in March 2021. A Better Balance's legal analysis, which found that 2/3 of pregnant workers are losing their accommodations cases in court, and direct support of pregnant women through its free work-family legal helpline have been central to making the case for the PWFA.

Crowd-Driven AI to Protect Endangered Sea Turtles

SAS INNOVATE -- As an organization dedicated to responsible innovation and using technology to ignite positive change, SAS will apply crowd-driven artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help protect endangered sea turtles. Similar to SAS' recent project to help track deforestation in the Amazon, the analytics leader is now working with the UNC Center for Galapagos Studies (CGS) to further research in several initiatives on the Islands. UNC CGS joined analytics leader SAS to analyze data and gather insights that will help them understand similarly challenged environments around the world.

Through an app called ConserVision, citizen scientists are invited to match images of turtles' facial markings to help train a SAS computer vision model. Once the model can accurately identify turtles individually, researchers will have valuable information more quickly to better track each turtle's health and migratory patterns over periods of time. The goal is that in the future the model can perform facial recognition on any sea turtle image, whether it comes from a conservation group or a vacationing tourist.

"As our challenges as a global community get increasingly more complex, we need dynamic ways to access and use information to ramp up conservation efforts," said Sarah Hiser, MSc, Principal Technical Architect at SAS. "By using technology like analytics, AI and machine learning to quantify the natural world, we gain knowledge to help protect ecosystems and tackle climate change."

In addition to turtles, the Galapagos Islands are home to many unique species not found anywhere else on Earth. An ecological haven for researchers since Charles Darwin first set foot there in 1835, they are also home to the Galapagos Science Center, a research facility jointly run by UNC-Chapel Hill and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

"For over 10 years, the Galapagos Science Center has hosted exceptional scientists doing innovative research that increases our understanding of the environment and results in positive real-world outcomes," explained UNC-Chapel Hill Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen. "This innovative public-private partnership with SAS will enhance the center's capacity for analyzing data that will positively impact both the environment and the people who inhabit these magnificent islands."

SAS will initially help UNC CGS with three projects focusing on marine life.

- Sea turtle facial recognition. By using computer vision and machine learning, researchers are looking to identify individual turtles as well as create a health index regarding growth rates, health threats and presence data. Information gleaned from this data set could be used to understand temporal and spatial movement patterns of these turtles and to identify health risks due to marine debris, boat strikes, diseases, etc. By creating a base health assessment for each animal, a temporal scale between photo capture can be used to determine health over time. Turtles can also be grouped based on region and travel behavior to provide comparisons for a relative health index and location over time, including the support and participation from citizen scientists and outreach.

- Hammerhead shark patterns. Hammerhead sharks commonly make offshore movements at night and further understanding is needed on what drives these movements. The hammerhead shark project focuses on the presence or absence of these sharks offshore and inshore, and if their movement is synchronous and/or rhythmical. Are there influences from ocean currents, food sources, ocean temperatures or salinity requirements that help direct the movement of these sharks? Insights can help with developing the boundaries of conservation areas as well as sustainable fishing and tourism practices.

- Phytoplankton predictions. As the basic energy and resource foundation of every food web on the planet, understanding the spatial and temporal dispersal and community interactions of phytoplankton populations is imperative for conservation. The goal of the phytoplankton project is to understand the physical, chemical, and biological factors that influence these small but mighty organisms. Changing ocean temperatures, weather patterns and human activity influence the marine environment that hosts them. Being able to predict changes at the bottom of the food chain can provide insights about the impact of climate change on all marine life, and in turn, human populations that depend on them.

As the only university science facility of its kind in the archipelago, the Galapagos Science Center opened in 2011 on San Cristobal Island to support interdisciplinary studies on population, health and environment by examining the social, terrestrial and marine subsystems of the islands. The Galapagos Initiative is designed to foster research, education and outreach programs with the larger goals of advancing conservation efforts in the Galapagos and promoting a better understanding of ecologically sensitive and protected areas worldwide. Ultimately, the Galapagos Science Center aims to ensure healthy island ecosystems for future generations.

Try the turtle matching game to see the ConserVision app in action and learn how SAS uses Data for Good to help solve humanitarian issues across the globe.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (US) and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador) formed a strategic partnership in 2006 to address the challenges facing the Galapagos Islands – the Galapagos Initiative. In 2011 this strategic partnership was further solidified through the construction of the Galapagos Science Center. The Center for Galapagos Studies is UNC-Chapel Hill's managing unit for the Galapagos Initiative. The Center coordinates Galapagos programs at the main Chapel Hill campus and all Carolina activities in the Galapagos archipelago itself.

The announcement was made at SAS Innovate, the AI and analytics business conference from analytics leader SAS. SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative software and services, SAS empowers and inspires customers around the world to transform data into intelligence. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

South Africa to welcome BRICS members in August

African Media Agency - 9 May 2023 - As South Africa prepares to host the incoming BRICS 2023 in August, the ministers of these countries held a meeting as a run-up to the summit. They discussed the preparations for South Africa's Chairship, the agenda for BRICS in 2023 and pledged to extend their full support to the country for the holding of the XV BRICS summit.

South Africa is well placed geographically within the BRICS. At the confluence of the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean, South Africa is an ideal bridge between the Americas and Eurasia. With its increasing responsibilities within BRICS, it also is the bridge for boosting economic growth between the African continent and the world.

South Africa became a member of BRICS - the prominent grouping of emerging economies, in December 2010 and hosted the fifth BRICS summit, the first one on the African continent, in 2013. The main agenda for South Africa to join the bloc was to strengthen South-South relations and boost trade by facilitating better access to markets of the member countries, promoting mutual trade practices, attracting investments and creating a business-friendly environment. Particularly for South Africa, the critical drivers for its BRICS participation had been the triple challenges resulting from its apartheid legacy of poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

For the vast majority of humanity who live in developing countries, a slowdown means further misery and a delayed improvement in quality of life. Globalisation as it was created can no longer be relied upon to bring growth and development to the poorest. The new phase of globalisation means that flow of capital and technology can no longer be from the global north to the global south. It is time for the global south to realise that it must come together to increase trade, investment and collaboration within itself.

It is here that South Africa must play a critical role. As a dynamic economy of the vast African continent and vibrant member of BRICS, it has the responsibility of leading the way for collaborative growth.

The already slow economic growth of South Africa was further affected by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. At present, the country's economy is recovering but at a sluggish pace with growth estimated at 1.9% in 2022. In these challenging times South Africa's membership in BRICS has proven to be particularly beneficial. The New Development Bank (NDB), established by BRICS countries, approved a USD 2 billion COVID-19 Emergency Program Loan to the Government of the Republic of South Africa to support the country's economic recovery from the pandemic. The bank was initially formed to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS, emerging economies and other developing countries. It was formed to complement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

In a statement before the 14th BRICS summit last year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned, "The collaboration among BRICS members in the area of health and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has placed South Africa in a better position to respond effectively to the current and future health emergencies." BRICS also extended great support to the India-South Africa proposal to waive certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement with regard to prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19. The proposal was submitted in October 2020.

In terms of trade relations, the 2010 United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report had put South Africa in the top 20 priority economies for foreign direct investment in the world. According to recent reports, in 2021, over 17% of South Africa's exports were destined for other BRICS countries, while over 29% of its total imports came from these countries. Hence, BRICS countries today have not only become significant trading partners, but the association is strengthening apace. The total South African trade with these countries have reached R702 billion in 2021 up from R487 billion in 2017.

South Africa also continues to attract substantial diversified investment from the BRICS countries. While the government is working towards mobilising finances from different sources to fund its ambitious infrastructure building and sustainable development projects, the New Development Bank (BRICS Bank) has also been playing an important role by extending financial as well as project preparation support. South Africa has already received $5.4 billion, currently worth around R86 billion, from the Bank to improve service delivery in critical areas.

Tourism is one of the key contributors to the country's growth. However, as a result of travel restrictions during the pandemic, South Africa had to bear critical losses in its tourism industry. Tourists from other BRICS countries accounted for 65% of all arrivals in South Africa in 2018, indicating that these markets are set to make important contributions to the recovery of this sector. With its eVisa programme, South Africa aims to make travel and tourism easier and less expensive, especially for visitors from India and China. In a recent report, the South African Tourism said that it is eyeing 64% year-on-year growth in arrivals from India in 2022.

As BRICS aims at extending solutions to global problems and designing a new paradigm for international relations, it is a crucial platform for SA to enhance the African agenda and emphasise the continent's overall development by leveraging its BRICS membership. As part of G20 and the Group of 5 (G5 – the five emerging nations), South Africa uses BRICS membership to push for a developmental position on multilateral forums, including on pressing issues such as climate change and agricultural trade. South Africa is the only African nation in G20 and is responsible for representing the entire continent. South Africa's membership has enhanced the political component of BRICS deliberations and has also received support from BRICS partners for African peace, security, and development issues, a notable feature on the agenda of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

According to Ziaad Suleman, Chair of the South Africa BRICS Business Council Digital Economy Work Group, on how the BRICS agenda has changed over the years with the advancement in digitization, he said that 60% of the population of Africa is under the age of 25. Hence, digitization is another key focus for the country. He believes that cloud technology and other digital education are remarkable opportunities for them.

The remarkable Smart Africa initiative is an important example of how countries within the continent have come together for common good. The collection of 30 countries and several global corporations are working for a single digital market in the African continent. South Africa is leading an effort on deepening the use of Artificial Intelligence and its deployment for development efforts.

Reduce Food Waste and Increase Sustainability

A2Z Smart Technologies Corp, is proud to announce its commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste through its innovative Cust2Mate platform. According to 2023 statistics, approximately 30 percent of food in American grocery stores is thrown away, with retail stores generating about 16 billion pounds of food waste every year. Wasted food from the retail sector is valued at about twice the amount of profit from food sales.

A2Z Cust2Mate is taking action to address this issue and promote sustainability in the retail grocery supply chain. Through its platform, Cust2Mate enables retailers to optimize their supply chain and reduce food waste by promoting expiring foods to shoppers in real-time. This allows retailers to minimize food waste while also increasing profitability.

"Our commitment to sustainability is an important part of our mission at A2Z," said Guy Mordoch, CEO of A2Z’s subsidiary, Cust2Mate. "We believe that our platform has the power to make a real difference in reducing food waste and promoting a more sustainable retail grocery supply chain."

The Cust2Mate platform is designed to streamline the retail shopping experience by scanning purchased products and enabling in-cart payment, allowing customers to "pick & go" and bypass long cashier checkout lines. This results in a more efficient shopping experience for customers, less unused shelf space and manpower requirements, and advanced command and control capabilities for store managers.

A2Z Cust2Mate is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to reduce food waste and promote sustainability in the retail grocery industry. Investors interested in A2Z Smart Technologies Corp. and their innovative solutions can visit for more information.

About A2Z

A2Z Smart Technologies Corp. creates innovative solutions for complex challenges. A2Z's flagship product is an advanced proven-in-use mobile self-checkout shopping chart. With its user-friendly smart algorithm, touch screen, and computer-vision system, Cust2Mate streamlines the retail shopping experience by promoting expiring foods, scanning purchased products, and enabling in-cart payment so that customers can simply "pick & go", and bypass long cashier checkout lines. This results in a more efficient shopping experience for customers, less unused shelf space and manpower requirements, and advanced command and control capabilities for store managers.