Child labour monitoring (CLM) is an evolving area of child labour work which is closely linked to enforcement of national child labour legislation. A wide range of child labour monitoring initiatives have been designed, implemented and tested as part of over ten years of ILO-IPEC's global work against child labour.
CLM first started in early 1990’s in the manufacturing sector through IPEC projects in Bangladesh and Pakistan from which it expanded into other economic sectors, such as fishing (in Indonesia and Philippines) and agriculture (in Central America and Western Africa). Currently CLM initiatives can be found in all areas of IPEC intervention including the informal and illicit sectors. More recently, CLM has been integrated into the design of Time Bound Programmes.
The earlier child labour monitoring initiatives were developed as a response to international pressure on specific export industries and the main objective was the monitoring of workplaces. Two well-known examples of this are the Bangladesh garment industry (BGMEA) project starting in 1995 and the Sialkot soccer ball industry project in Pakistan starting in 1997. Both projects developed specific monitoring procedures and tools with monitoring carried out by professional and skilled workplace monitoring teams.
These initial experiences highlighted the importance of combining social protection with the monitoring activity at an early stage of the initiative, in order to provide viable alternatives for children withdrawn from work. With the Central America coffee and agriculture projects, the concept of "community-based monitoring" became more fully developed. Using local resource persons and awareness-raising approaches to mobilize communities, these projects began to demonstrate the capacity of non-traditional actors to monitor child labour. These and other child labour monitoring initiatives have contributed to the evolution of the concept of CLM over recent years. The focus has shifted from monitoring the industry to monitoring the child as s/he is removed from work and provided with social protection services. The attention has also moved from the "withdrawal" of children from work to a coordinated child protection effort involving the identification, referral, verification and tracking that targeted children are provided with satisfactory alternatives. Lastly a change has occurred from monitoring specific target sectors to an area-based approach to monitor all types of child labour in larger geographical areas.