Gülşen Aktaş was born in the Kurdish region of Dersim within the Turkish borders, and grew up in Turkey with relatives and in boarding schools. Her father died young and her mother immigrated to Germany as a guest worker without her children, and worked in a factory to feed her four daughters in Turkey. Aktaş graduated from high school in Urfa and became a primary school teacher in the province of Diyarbakir. At the age of 21, she followed her mother to Germany. In Berlin and Frankfurt, she studied political science and worked in one of the first women's shelters in Berlin, and on various immigrant and women's projects. In the early 1990s, she reported, in a much-publicized article, on the experience of racism by immigrants in German women's shelters, which helped the German social work topography take a more diverse tone. Aktaş founded a network for Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian and Arab women and girls, and advised students and parents of different origins at a primary school in Berlin-Schöneberg. Since 2007, she is the director Huzur, a Berlin leisure center for senior citizens that offers consultation and cultural tours in Berlin. For her political engagement, Aktaş received an Order of Merit from the city of Berlin in 2011.