Rachel’s current research is on the recruitment, demobilization, and reintegration of women and girls in non-state armed groups. This is an extension of her Master’s research (NPSIA), where she completed fieldwork in Bogotá, Colombia and compared recruitment patterns aimed at girls by different armed groups operating in that country. At that time (2006), homegrown terrorism and foreign fighters were not looming large on the global radar, but she is now observing striking similarities between how the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army) recruited and lured young girls to how ISIS is now doing the same. Rachel’s current research is thus focused on the trajectories of young girls from when and how they are recruited, to what roles they have in armed groups, to how and when they demobilize or leave armed groups (often as adults, even though they were recruited as minors). She is researching why some women choose formal demobilization processes while others leave armed groups informally, and what impact that has on their reintegration outcomes.
This research is an area in which very little empirical information exists. Her work will also examine the security responses to female recruitment in terms of looking at how various disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs have addressed (or failed to address) the needs of girls and women, and what implications this has for overall peace and security in post-conflict countries, or in countries to which ex-combatants are returning.