Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has suggested Russia and Ukraine wouldn’t be at war if they were run by women.

“No two countries run by women would ever go to war,” Sandberg told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Dubai on Tuesday during a fireside at a Cartier event marking International Women’s Day.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine late last month. President Vladimir Putin has said his goal is for “demilitarization of Ukraine,” as well as the recognition of Crimea as Russian and rebel-held regions Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

Ukraine says it has the right to self-determination, and that it wants membership of the European Union. The country has fought back considerably against Russia, with the defense intelligence agency on Monday claiming Ukrainian forces killed a second Russian general days after a first was killed last week.

Sandberg said that, if half the world were run by women, she believes the world would be “safer” and “much more prosperous.”

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, women-led countries such as New Zealand performed better than their male-run counterparts, according to the Meta executive.

Covid has wiped out three and a half decades of progress for women.

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief Operating Officer at Meta

Still, the pandemic has raised a number of challenges for gender equality, Sandberg said. Covid was a “complete crisis for gender equality,” she said, adding women’s participation in the labor force is “plummeting all over the world.”

“Covid has wiped out three and a half decades of progress for women,” Sandberg said. Women are leaving the workforce due to an uneven balance of labor in the home, she added.

Women’s workforce participate rate hit 57% in January, which is the lowest level since 1988, according to analysis from the National Women’s Law Center.

‘Social media is bad for dictators’

Last week, Russian media censor Roskomnadzor said it would block access to Meta’s Facebook, claiming the social platform unfairly restricted access to several state-affiliated media outlets.

Russian authorities at first had ordered the platform to stop fact-checking and labeling content posted on Facebook by state-owned outlets like RT and Sputnik, Meta’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg said. Meta refused that request.

Russia has since strengthened its crackdown on social media companies, with Facebook blocked and Twitter harder to use.

Sandberg summed up Russia’s decision to block Facebook from the country in six simple words.

“Social media is bad for dictators,” Sandberg said. “That’s why Putin took us down.”

The move will only worsen the internet freedoms of citizens in Russia, she added.

“The scariest part of all of this is the lack of access,” she said. “When we go down in Russia, people are losing their ability to actually understand what’s happening.”

“We need to fight for access [and] make sure that social media exists so that people do get information from from all over the world, and that that information is valid and real.”

—CNBC’s Jessica Bursztynsky contributed to this report.

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