Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen have jointly won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Associated Press reported that the three were honored "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
More: Rivals criticize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Nobel win
Making the announcement in Oslo, Norwegian Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said:
We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.
It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's hope that the prize ... will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.
Sirleaf, 72, is Africa's first female elected head of state. She was elected to office in 2005, following the end of Liberia's 14-year civil war.
(Read more on Global Post: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf runs for reelection)
Meanwhile Gbowee is a peace activist and Karman is a leading figure in Yemen's pro-democracy movement.
The BBC reported that Karman was recognized for playing a leading part in the struggle for women's rights during the Arab pro-democracy uprisings.
She dedicated the prize "to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people".
Many saw the uprisings against governments in North African and the Middle East as the most likely subject of this year's prize, said the Associated Press.