SALT LAKE CITY - In a big announcement Thursday from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sister missionaries will now be allowed to wear pants.
For the first time since missionary work began in 1830, women serving in all 407 missions across the world will now have the option to wear slacks, instead of just skirts or dresses.
“So many women are going to be thrilled that this isn’t a problem anymore,” LDS feminist April Young Bennett said.
“Oh it’s fantastic news!” said Elaina Lundquist as she left temple grounds.
It is almost 2019, but until Thursday women serving LDS missions weren’t allowed to wear pants.
“It was really a problem,” Young Bennett said. “[That LDS women] have been talking about for a long time. Just something that really bothers us, that’s really concerning and that we’ve been trying to change for a long time.”
It’s a change 188 years in the making.
“It shouldn’t have taken this long for women to be able to wear pants while doing missionary work,” Young Bennett said.
In an announcement Thursday, the Church said the change was primarily motivated by safety concerns — helping to protect women serving in warmer climates from mosquito borne diseases.
For women serving in colder climates, like 19-year-old Lundquist, she’ll get to wear slacks to stay warm.
“I’m going on the Sweden Stockholm mission, Swedish speaking April 10th of next year,” Lundquist said. “It’s going to be a little bit liberating actually since I’m going to Sweden and it’s cold there."
However, this change isn’t all encompassing – women will still be required to wear skirts or dresses at the temple and during various conferences and services.
“It doesn’t go all the way,” Young Bennett said.
For some that’s not a problem.
“You’re stepping into a different place when you go into the church or the temple than if you’re just walking out on the street, so it’s important to wear something that kind of reflects that,” Lundquist said.
But for Young Bennett, that’s part of the issue.
“It’s disappointing that even though, as I see this new policy and it’s going through to everyone throughout the world and now it will affect all sister missionaries, not just those in certain countries… it’s a little bit disappointing to see that they still have to risk it [safety] on Sunday, when there’s really no doctrinal reason to do so,” Young Bennett said.
Still, Young Bennett said the announcement makes her feel hopeful.
“I hope that this will lead to more women-friendly policies in the future."
In the meantime, LDS women can put their pants on one leg at a time, just like their male counterparts.