Emine Erdoğan was born in Siirt, and grew up in Üsküdar, Istanbul. She is of Arab descent and the youngest child of a family of five children. Erdoğan attended Mithat Paşa Akşam Art School, but left before graduation.
Emine Erdoğan joined the "Idealist Women's Association". During these activities she met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a conference. Recep and Emine married on July 4, 1978. The couple has four children: Ahmet Burak Erdoğan, Necmettin Bilal, Sümeyye and Esra.
On December 7, 2010, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani conferred the Pakistani State Decoration on Emine Erdoğan, in recognition of her personal efforts for the flood stricken people of Pakistan. In October 2010, Erdoğan visited Pakistan and the flood hit areas to personally witness the devastation caused by the floods and contributed significantly in the fund-raising campaign to help the country’s flood victims.
On February 16, 2011, Emine Erdoğan was presented with the "Prix de la Fondation" by the Crans Montana Forum at a ceremony in Brussels. "We believe that all women in the world deserve the utmost social and political opportunities. Rights of women in our geography should not be sacrificed for balance of power and security concerns of some regimes. We have seen numerous women who were left destitute after natural disasters in Pakistan, who suffered from poverty in Bangladesh, who lost their children, husbands, hope or future in Palestine, Iraq, Bosnia or in Darfur. We have seen many women who were abused both in the West and in the East. They all have one thing in common which is being a human and a woman. Therefore, I believe that our struggle for peace, democracy and freedom should continue with a great determination. I want to reiterate once again that we reject double-standards and discrimination in this struggle," Erdoğan said after receiving the prize from the founder and chairman of the Crans Montana Forum.