That's why female farmers who teach others in their communities about innovative farming methods, how to improve harvests and raise livestock, are pivotal in ensuring families have enough food to eat.
One such leader is 32-year-old Ester Jerome from central Tanzania.
In a recent competition run by the charity Oxfam to showcase female farmers, Jerome won first prize from a field of 7,000 nominations put forward by fellow herders and smallholder farmers in the east African country.
In Tanzania's semi-arid Dodoma region, Jerome grows sunflowers, ground nuts and millet. She has also boosted her yields of sorghum from five to 75 bags a year, which has helped feed her village.
She put the increase down to planting a red-seeded sorghum, which is drought resistant, rather than the traditionally grown white seeded-sorghum.
It's a practice Jerome is encouraging other farmers to adopt.
"Unfortunately, there is a deep-rooted belief in our community that red sorghum is meant for poor people. Thus, many villagers prefer growing maize or white sorghum instead of the red one," she said in emailed responses to AlertNet's questions. "In the end, the majority will harvest less food or nothing as the area receives little rain ... that's where I come in."
Women in Tanzania, like in many African countries, make up around 70 percent of all the country's smallholder farmers. But few own farmland.
"Although women are the main producers, they still don't have an opportunity to own land," says Jerome, who has five children and who also cares for her HIV-infected mother. "Land ownership would enable me to be free and use more land for production."