African countries must work harder to ban female genital mutilation, Chantal Compoare, the first lady of Burkina Faso, said on Monday.
"I call on all African states to cooperate on all levels in order to speed up the elimination of the practice of female genital mutilation," Compoare told delegates at an international conference on the subject.
Emma Bonino, the deputy leader of the Italian Senate, said she wanted the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution condemning the practice, also known as female circumcision.
Female genital mutilation is carried out for religious or cultural reasons in some parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the World Health Organization says.
It involves the partial or complete removal of the female external genitals. It can cause death through haemorrhaging and later complications during childbirth.
There are risks of infection, urinary tract problems and mental trauma.
The WHO estimates between 100 and 140 million women worldwide have been operated on in this way.