SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A session that used to be reserved for men only at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' twice-annual signature conference has been permanently scrapped, the faith announced Monday.

The decision came three years after the church changed the Saturday evening session to alternate each six months between being for only men and only for women — and nearly eight years after the faith began broadcasting the male-only session.

Some women in the faith objected to the male-only session, contending it was an illustration of a gender inequality in the faith.

Only men are allowed to be considered priesthood holders in the faith's lay clergy, a distinction that allows them to lead congregations and hold the highest leadership positions in the Utah-based faith that counts 16.5 million members worldwide.

Church leaders said in a statement that the decision was made because the session is now available online for anyone to watch.

The faith also announced Monday that the next conference Oct. 2-3 will be held without attendees for the fourth time in a row as the effects of the pandemic linger.

Before the pandemic, the two-day conference brought about 100,000 people to the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City over two days.