The first recipient is 72-year-old Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became Africa's first democratically-elected female president in 2005.
The second recipient is peace activist Leymah Gbowee, honored for her role in mobilizing women to end the long war in Liberia.
They will share the $1.5 million prize with Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, who heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She is the first Arab woman to win the prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored the three women "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
Committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said he hoped the prize would bring more attention to rape and other violence against women as well as women's role in promoting democracy in Africa and the Arab and Muslim world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.