First Lady Emine Erdoğan was born as Cemal and Hayriye Gülbaran’s fifth child and only daughter on February, 16 1955 in Istanbul. Mrs. Erdoğan, originally from Siirt, was educated at Istanbul Mithatpaşa Vocational Institute for Girls and has been actively involved in social activities since her youth. Mrs. Erdoğan was among the founding members of the “Idealist Women’s Association”, which she named herself. She closely followed the events organized by the National Turkish Student Union and the Ladies Foundation for Science and Culture. With author Şule Yüksel Şenler’s contribution, Mrs. Erdoğan made a life-altering decision and dedicated herself to social projects.
During this period, she met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and married him on July, 4 1978. Mrs. Erdoğan has been the greatest supporter of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of the most significant leaders in Turkish political history, during his political struggles.
Mrs. Erdoğan served as a founding member of the Provincial Women's Branch Administrative Board of the Refah Party when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected the Istanbul Provincial Head and she pioneered an era that paved the way for women's active participation in politics in Turkey. She launched a women's movement, which greatly contributed to the success of the Refah Party in the elections.
After her husband Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Mrs. Erdoğan took part in various social responsibility projects. She contributed to the establishment of an aid corridor between different social groups by initiating the “iftar tables where the poor and the rich meet” tradition, which is still carried on by the mayoralties of AK Party.
Mrs. Erdoğan, who has 2 daughters and 2 sons, has always actively participated in the social and political life and continued her activities during her husband's Premiership. She has practiced the spirit of philanthropy, that she inherited from her family, in all fields of her life and lent her helping hand to thousands of people. She led the foundation of the “Center for Social Development” (TOGEM) in 2005 and has supported important projects concerning the education of women and children.
With the Ministry of National Education, Mrs. Erdoğan launched a country-wide campaign to resolve the issue of the girls who were not allowed to go to school by their families. Almost 300 thousand girls have been provided with education through the campaign “Come on Girls, Let’s Go to School”.
Mrs. Erdoğan continued her efforts in education with “Mothers and Daughters at School” campaign, which she named herself. Through the campaign, she solved the problems of the mothers, who had not had the opportunity to learn to read and write.
Mrs. Erdoğan has also struggled against physical abuse of children and child forced labor and supported several campaigns emphasizing the significance of education in early childhood such as the “7 is too late” campaign. By inviting First Ladies of various countries to these projects, Mrs. Erdoğan has enhanced the sphere of influence of these campaigns. She has tremendously contributed to the “Sister Family Project”, which has received a strong support and interest of the people across the country.
Mrs. Erdoğan has supported the “Voluntary Envoys” project, developed by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies to promote volunteering in society and to harmonize public services. With the wives of the governors from all 81 provinces, she has led a campaign to improve the living conditions of the women, the elderly, the children, the disabled, the veterans and families of the martyrs. The project, which was awarded the “Golden Compass”, the academy award of public relations, in the best public project category, has attracted great interest among the projects cited by the UN. The project has continued under the auspices Mrs. Erdoğan since 2012.
Mrs. Erdoğan, along with the wives of the leaders in the region, has supported the international conferences held on the theme of “Women in Business Life” so that women can participate in business life more actively. Her efforts for more active participation of women in business world as well as politics have not been limited to her activities in the party. She has encouraged women to take part in politics all over the country.
Mrs. Erdoğan has supported and promoted the projects of many NGOs working to solve the problems of the women, the disabled and to provide healthcare and education.
First Lady Erdoğan has always expressed that she values Turkey's accession to the EU for swift structural reforms in many areas in Turkey. In addition, she has paid attention to the cries rising from different geographies in the world, stood by the oppressed and the poor, and vehemently opposed violations of human rights. She has not remained silent in the face of the humanitarian tragedies in Gaza, Myanmar and Pakistan, and organized international events. After the attacks against Gaza in 2009, she hosted the wives of the Western and Arab leaders and called the whole world to “stop the war.” In 2012, Mrs. Erdoğan personally went to Myanmar to observe the human tragedy there despite the critical security threats and provided humanitarian aid to the region. She has articulated the feelings of millions of mothers by putting this issue on the world agenda and helped launch big aid campaigns.
First Lady Erdoğan, the wife of the first directly-elected President of the Republic of Turkey, continues to exchange views with First Ladies of various countries on social responsibility projects during her foreign visits. She also contributes to the publicity of Turkey by inviting First Ladies to our country when needed.
Mrs. Erdoğan pays close attention to cultural and artistic events and pays visits to educational and medical facilities during her visits. She closely follows the studies in traditional medicine, which is increasingly regarded as a complement of modern medicine in the world. She values healthy living and natural eating, and is especially interested in studies that will increase the social awareness on these matters.
Mrs. Erdoğan enjoys reading and listening to the world music during her spare time.