I was sitting with my daughter Miriam in Sacrament meeting on General Conference weekend (that's how we do it in Australia - we watch conference the week after it is held in Salt Lake), when Bishop Sandford made the announcement about the changes to the required ages for missionary calls. (See here for the official announcement from Church headquarters.)
In a nutshell - boys can now go when 18 years of age and girls can now go at 19. Miriam leaned over to me straight away and said something like "Dad, I can go now!" Well, not now, she is only 15, but it now means she can plan to go when she is 19. Like many young women in the Church, missionary service has been seen as something that the boys do, and the girls sort of want to do but don't want to wait till when they are old - 21!
I was so glad to hear this news. Both the announcement and Miriam's reaction to it. I have seen girls leave the Church too often in those last teen years. The focus in Young Women's curriculum has been education and marriage, and they graduate from Young Women and then just sort of wait till some Returned Missionary hopefully realizes how gorgeous and spiritual they are and sweeps them off their feet. And for some it just does not happen. And then they get to around 21 and start to think "maybe I should go on a mission." So going on a mission became a consolation prize for those not pretty enough to attract an RM.
This announcement in the change in ages is a "game changer", particularly for the girls. It will change the make-up (no pun intended) in the missions.
There could well be close to 50% sisters in a mission soon. This may give sisters a chance to serve as district or even zone leaders.
It will change the LDS dating scene. Now the girls who don't go on missions will be less attractive than the girls who do go on missions.
It will change leadership in the wards and stakes - more returned sister missionaries will mean more effective leadership and teaching from the sisters.
It could make LDS marriages even stronger - stats show that RMs are more successful in life generally, and particularly in marriage, so in theory more RM's marrying each other will mean stronger marriages.
It could make for more effective older couple missionaries when both parts of the couple are RMs
It could mean more converts. More missionaries serving (read this) will mean more baptisms and especially more as sisters often "out baptize" the elders.
It could mean more kids growing up in the Church will serve missions because they have both women and men RMs to look up to as role models now, both in the home and the Church more broadly)
Most of the above outcomes I have read somewhere in the LDS blogosphere, and some I have thought of myself. Can you add to my list of "coulds"?