Mormon Women Rejoice As LDS Church Lifts Ban on Female Missionaries Wearing Pants

Mormon women working as missionaries have been granted permission to wear slacks, according to church officials.

The rule has been put into immediate effect by leaders of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect women in regions where insects spread dangerous diseases during wet seasons. However, the slacks can be worn throughout the year by women in all of the institution's 407 missions, with some exceptions.

Women missionaries attending Sunday services, temple, leadership conferences and baptismal services will be expected to wear skirts or dresses.

Men are advised to continue to wear business-style suits, white dress shirts and ties, as well as dress shoes, the church's guidelines state.

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, general president of Young Women general president and Missionary Executive Council member, commented in a statement: "There are a lot of vector-borne diseases because of mosquitoes and ticks and fleas."

She said the new rule helps to prevent or minimize bites. They also help women in cold climates to warm, as well as aiding those who ride bikes, she added.

Cordon stressed wearing slacks is optional: "The sisters can wear dresses, they can wear slacks, whatever will help them in their service as they're out amongst the people."

Elder Uchtdorf, chairman of Mormon governing body the Missionary Executive Council and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in a statement that the Church's dress code has been changed periodically since its establishment in 1830.

"As we adapt these standards, we always carefully consider the dignity of the missionary calling to represent Jesus Christ, the safety, security, and health of our beloved missionaries, and the cultural sensitivities of the places where they serve," he said.

April Young Bennett, a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told Fox 13 missionaries will be "thrilled" and the policy was "[something] we've been trying to change for a long time."

She said she was excited to wear slacks when she heads out to a mission in Stockholm, Sweden. Temperatures in the Scandinavian country can drop as low as -7.F in the height of winter.

However, she said it was "disappointing" women were expected to "risk" their safety in certain instances, such as baptismal services, "when there's really no doctrinal reason to do so."

"I hope that this will lead to more women-friendly policies in the future," she said.

Elaina Lundquist, also a Mormon, told the broadcaster the news was "fantastic."

According to the church's website, over 80,000 Mormon missionaries are posted in hundreds of major cities across the globe. To qualify, an individual must be a single man aged between 18 and 25, a woman over the age of 19, or part of a retired couple. The majority of volunteers are aged under 25. Missionaries, who can't request which country they are assigned to, work with a partner of the same gender, unless they are in a couple. Men serve for two years, while women serve for 18 months.

Their days start at 6:30 a.m. for study, before they spend the day proselytizing. That may involve visiting homes, attending appointments, or approaching people in the street. Their day concludes at 10:30 p.m. Missionaries must foot the bill of their trip, apart from transportation to the location, and are unpaid.

Provo, Utah, is the base of the largest missionary training center. There are also outposts in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Spain and South Korea.

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Female missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has given women permission to wear slacks. Getty Images