There is one discussion point that seems missing from the current LDS women/priesthood/leadership debate. And that has to do with the role of women in developing countries. The LDS Church is having its most impressive growth south of the equator. And soon there will be more members in developing countries than in the US/Europe/Japan. We are indeed becoming a rainbow church.
Most developmental models for third world countries are heavily weighted toward women’s programs. Women are viewed as the real movers and shakers. I live part-time in Africa and the NGOs I work with (SeeeMe and Interethnic Health Alliance) are concentrating their efforts on women (because they are more family oriented and generally more responsible). This emphasis on women has also been a priority with the both the United Nations and the US State Department (the latter under the leadership of Hillary Clinton).
When I’ve talked with LDS humanitarian missionaries in the US, Uganda, and Cambodia, they always say things like “the programs need to be administered under the leadership of the local priesthood.” This particular emphasis rings hollow to me given the Church’s attitude toward women and the priesthood. Some of the Church’s humanitarian efforts need to be directed through and/or by the Relief Society.
I believe, given developing-country gender dynamics, that the LDS Church needs to reconsider the leadership roles of its women members.