Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz was born in Selama, Perak on 4 November 1943 and had her primary, secondary, and tertiary education in various schools in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu and Johor Bharu.
She qualified with a BA Degree in 1966, and Masters in Economics in 1970, from the University of Malaya.
She worked as Tutor and as Lecturer in the Faculty of Economics, University of Malaya between 1966 and 1976.
She was appointed as Senator in 1974 and resigned to contest in the General Elections in 1978. She served as Member of Parliament from 1978 to 2013 in the Selayang Constituency (1978 to 1982) and Kuala Kangsar Constituency (1982 – 2013).
In 1976, she was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Enterprises and in 1977 promoted to Deputy Minister of Finance. In 1980, she was made Minister of Public Enterprises a post she held for 7 years. In 1987, she was appointed Minister for Trade and Industry (subsequently redesignated Minister of International Trade and Industry), and served for 21 years up to 2008.
She served in the UMNO Supreme Council for 38 years since winning a seat in the council in 1975.
She has received various award from the States of Selangor, Perak, Malacca, Terengganu and Sarawak, as well as awards from Thailand, Argentina and Chile.
She has also been conferred Honorary Doctorates from University Malaya, University Putra Malaysia, University Utara Malaysia, University Tun Abdul Razak Malaysia, HELP University, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, University Tunku Abdul Rahman and Dominican University of California, United States. She is now serving as Adjunct Professor at College of Business, University Utara Malaysia and Chancellor of Meritus University.
Currently, she is Chairman of AirAsia X Berhad and Megasteel.
She is also Patron of several NGO’s and Advisor to Sarawak Renewable Energy Corridor (RECODA).