BYU Women’s Conference: What to expect and how to watch

For 45 years, Brigham Young University Women’s Conference has provided a sense of sisterhood, connection and belonging.

This year, thanks to technology, more women than ever before have the opportunity to participate. “We are grateful for the resources that allow us to join in a worldwide sisterhood and to remember that each of us is a child of God and that His promises are true,” said Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

BYU Women’s Conference, cosponsored by Brigham Young University, the Relief Society general presidency and the Church News, will be available online beginning Thursday and Friday, April 29-30. All women and men ages 16 and older are invited to participate.

Watch BYU Women’s conference sessions and read talk summaries

Historically one of the largest gatherings of Latter-day Saint women in the world, BYU Women’s Conference held an entirely virtual event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the conference will again be digital-only — with an expanded number of sessions and more available in Spanish and Portuguese. 

“We’re so excited for the opportunity to reach thousands of women worldwide with messages of hope and encouragement, and practical advice for living the gospel and living life,” said Rosemary Thackeray, chair of BYU Women’s Conference.

The 2021 theme is “I Am a Child of God. His Promises Are Sure.” Speakers include Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, in addition to members of the Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, Young Men and Sunday School general presidencies — the first time all five organization presidency members will speak at BYU Women’s Conference. 

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; and Sister Susan H. Porter, newly called first counselor in the Primary general presidency will participate in the Sister to Sister event.

What will BYU Women’s Conference look like?

BYU Women’s Conference this year will include both free and paid experiences (see schedule of complimentary sessions below). All sessions will be recorded and can be watched on-demand at a later date. 

The seven sessions featuring Elder and Sister Rasband and the general leaders will be free and available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. A digital registration package for $59 includes 35 additional English sessions available for viewing April 29 through Sept. 30. Five sessions originating in Spanish and five translated in Spanish will also be available. 

BYU Women’s Conference sessions will include topics such as belonging, navigating trials with faith and optimism, what it means to be a daughter of God, protecting children and teenagers from online hazards, marital intimacy, grief and loss, encouraging women to speak out and speak up, and fostering relationships with loved ones during faith transitions.  

With a wide array of topics and speakers, “there is something for everyone,” Thackeray said. Even though participants will be spread across distance and time, “I hope that they will come away with a sense of connectedness and sisterhood — that no matter where they are in the world, they will feel like they are a part of something bigger.”

As a BYU Women’s Conference preview, Sister Sheri L. Dew’s keynote address “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises (2 Peter 1:3-4)” is now available for free on the conference’s website. On April 29, this session will be part of the digital registration package.  

This year’s digital event will feature music submissions from women worldwide. A virtual choir with participants from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Portugal and several U.S. states will perform a song in English and Spanish. 

A special service broadcast will be held April 29 at 6:30 p.m. to celebrate the conference’s history of service and to highlight recent service opportunities. Sister Wendy W. Nelson and Sister Mary Ellen Edmunds will share prerecorded messages. The broadcast will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube

Thackeray said though the digital format and “look” of the prerecorded sessions will be different from previous BYU Women’s Conferences, “the Spirit will be the same.”

The 2021 theme

In a world that seems to be increasingly divided, being children of God is “a common identity that we all share,” Thackeray said. This year’s theme — “I Am a Child of God. His Promises Are Sure” — is a reminder of that identity and God’s promises to His children. 

In the October 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson invited his global audience to study the Lord’s promises to covenant Israel. “Ponder these promises,” he said. “Talk about them with your family and friends. Then live and watch for these promises to be fulfilled in your own life.”

Episode 27: BYU Women’s Conference chair on the virtual event: ‘I am a Child of God’

After a difficult year that has brought much isolation, Sister Aburto said, “more than ever we need to support each other, and we need to remember the promises made by the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He has promised us that if turn to Him, He will gather us, protect us and heal us. … We hope that our sisters and others will remember those divine promises, will feel of our love for them and will have the desire to care for each other in holier ways.”

Thackeray added, “Sometimes we’re in the middle of what Elder Neal A. Maxwell called ’the muddled, mortal middle.′ We tend to forget all the amazing promises that we’ve been given. … If we can focus on those promises, it can provide hope and guidance in a world filled with stress and turmoil and uncertainty.”

Increasing the conference’s global reach

Typically, BYU Women’s Conference is a two-day conference held on the university’s campus in Provo, Utah. General sessions are held in the Marriott Center, followed by concurrent sessions each hour. Though the general sessions are usually broadcast, the other offerings are limited to those who attend in person. 

Women gather on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, for the annual Women's Conference on May 4, 2017.
Women gather on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, for the annual Women’s Conference on May 4, 2017. Credit: Aislynn Edwards, BYU Photo

During the all-virtual 2020 BYU Women’s Conference, live broadcasts were viewed on Facebook by people in 26 countries, including Denmark, Egypt, Guatemala, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the Philippines, Thackeray noted. 

When faced with the question of holding another all-virtual conference this year due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, the planning committee was all in. 

“Women want to gather,” Thackeray said. “There’s a spirit that comes when we gather together, and you can feel that spirit no matter where you are in the world. I think that’s one thing that we learned last year that really prompted us to say, ‘We can do this again.’”

Thackeray said the 2021 planning committee has met entirely over Zoom, providing an opportunity to expand the committee to women who don’t live in Utah. One of the speakers this year, Melissa Dalton-Bradford, prerecorded her session from Germany. 

“It’s going to open up great opportunities to expand women’s conference,” Thackeray said of embracing technology during the pandemic. “So stay tuned for next year.”

For more information about the upcoming BYU Women’s conference, visit womensconference.byu.edu.

How to watch BYU Women’s Conference

The following is a schedule of the free sessions:

Thursday, April 29

10:00–11:45 a.m. MDT

2:00-3:30 p.m. MDT

Friday, April 30

10:00 a.m.–noon MDT

  • Sister to Sister event: Sister Sharon Eubank, Sister Michelle Craig, Sister Susan H. Porter
  • Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Melanie Rasband

No registration is necessary for the free sessions. Watch online on TheChurchNews.com or ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Sessions will also be streamed on The Church News Facebook and YouTube, and BYU Women’s Conference Facebook and YouTube.