Congratulations to the winners, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia; and Tawakul Karman of Yemen. The three have won for their efforts in securing women's rights. Sirleaf is the first female president of Liberia; Gbowee has been active in uniting Christians and Muslims against local warlords; Karman has been in a sit-in camp since February as part of the Arab Spring.
The decision, according to the New York Times, was made to give the award to that combination of women in order to ensure that everyone understood the prize was being given out for women's rights and not for something else. Had it just gone to the Liberians, it may have been seen as taking sides in an upcoming re-election campaign, and had it just gone to Karman, it might have been seen as expressing support exclusively for the Arab Spring.
They were burned in that respect in 2009, when Barack Obama was awarded the prize chiefly for his agenda on nuclear disarmament, and he ended up being held to it by Republicans for far more than that. This year, the Nobel committee is not leaving the message to chance.