(Reuters) - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee and Yemen's Tawakul Karman were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Here are some facts about the winners:

* ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF:

-- Johnson-Sirleaf earned the nickname "Iron Lady" by challenging warlord Charles Taylor for the presidency in 1997 during Liberia's brutal civil war. She lost by a landslide, but that never shook her resolve.

-- She won the 2005 presidential runoff against soccer icon George Weah, who alleged fraud although the polls received a clean bill of health from observers. She was sworn in as Africa's first elected female head of state in January 2006.

-- Johnson-Sirleaf vowed to create a "government of inclusion" to heal the wounds of war and toured the streets to win over Liberia's poor youth, many of them former child soldiers who believe Weah was cheated.

-- In January 2010, she went back on her campaign promise to be president for only one term when she announced she would contest the 2011 presidential election, to be held on October 11.

-- She has won widespread international praise for her work rebuilding Liberia, but is still struggling to convince many in the country that change is coming fast enough.

-- Born Ellen Euphemia Johnson in October 1938, she grew up in Monrovia and attended Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government where she obtained a Master's Degree in Public Administration in 1971.

* LEYMAH GBOWEE:

-- Leymah Gbowee, 39, mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious divides to help bring an end to the war in Liberia and to ensure women's participation in elections.

-- Following the 2003 peace treaty, her network mobilized women to vote and was instrumental in the victory of Johnson-Sirleaf.

-- Since 2004, Gbowee has served as a commissioner on Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

-- Since 2006, Gbowee has been executive director of Women in Peace and Security Network - Africa, an organization that works with women in Liberia, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to promote peace, literacy, and electoral politics.

* TAWAKUL KARMAN:

-- Both before and during the "Arab Spring," Tawakul Karman, 32, has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen, the prize committee said.

-- Founder in 2005 and chairwoman of Women Journalists without Chains, Tawakul Karman is a Yemeni journalist and activist who has devoted herself to the fight for media freedom. She is also a member of the Islamist party Islah Was.

-- A thorn in the side of the government, she was briefly arrested early this year after leading protests against autocratic Arab rulers.

-- She vowed in February to galvanize a youth-led uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years.

-- "We started rallies before Tunisia's revolution and were demanding reforms and other rights. But after Tunisia, we realized the solution is for this regime to go," Karman said.

Sources: Reuters/All Africa/www.emansion.gov.lr/www.nobelprize.org/www.gruberprizes.o g/http:/www.wisemuslimwomen.org

(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)